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Put pressure on clients at pre-planning stage

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The headline to your editorial 'Clients need to learn to spend money at the pre-planning stage' (AJ 14.3.02), sums it up nicely. But how are we going to persuade them?

There are three essential steps.

First, architects must refuse to work for clients who have no interest in making a building that is relevant to its context (except perhaps for a few last-minute, neo-vernacular stick-ons).

Second, local authorities must (as Planning Policy Guidance Note 1 urges them to) insist on every significant planning application being accommodated by a design statement, explaining how the proposal responds to its context and what design principles it is based on.

Third, enable local people to carry out Placechecks, as advocated by the Urban Design Alliance, so that they themselves can decide what is important about the place and can put pressure on clients to recognise it.

Robert Cowan, director, Urban Design Group

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