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Reaction: end for Design for London as team moves into regen unit

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The Design for London (DfL) team is to be shrunk and moved into the Greater London Authority’s Regeneration Unit

The move effectively spells the end for the DfL as an independent outfit. Its head since 2008 Mark Brearley is expected to leave along with a handful of other design posts.

Speaking to the AJ this morning, a spokesman for the GLA confirmed that DfL would no longer exist in name but insisted that its ‘work continues’.

The future of the development-enabling body, which cost around £1.5 million to run, was thrown into doubt two years ago (AJ 25.11.2010) following the government’s decision to pull the plug on parent body the London Development Agency’s (LDA).

At the time a host of high-profile names issued an impassioned plea to the Mayor of London to save the body which has worked with more than 120 practices on hundreds of schemes across the capital.

Speaking about the loss of DfL, Joe Morris of Duggan Morris said: ‘During 2008 I had the privilege of working with DfL on an Urban Scholarship, part sponsored by the AJ. The project was intended to give insight into the workings of the DfL team, inspire young and emerging architects and provide the opportunity to develop ideas around urban themes. I found the experience both exhilarating and humbling.

‘There were many fly on the wall moments which remain vivid memories. Several of those relate to the Olympic Park regeneration scheme, and the impact of this vast piece of city infrastructure on the surrounding towns and city scape. I have never met a more dedicated, insightful and inspiring group of individuals, and their role in shaping London is difficult to quantify.’

Neil Deely, partner at Metropolitan Workshop, said: ‘It is very sad that DfL is to be disbanded and quite baffling. If London wishes to continue to compete with the most successful cities on the planet, then it must challenge its evolution unceasingly; DfL does this.

It’s very sad that DfL is to be disbanded and quite baffling

‘It is an unparalleled pool of talent, experience and intellect that is quite unique in its understanding of the role good design in city making. Their skill is to inspire, question, educate, stimulate and shape – are these roles now unnecessary?’

Chris Romer-Lee of Studio Octopi said: ‘It’d be sad if it was over. Another sign of the Tories stripping away at the organisations that ensure design excellence.

‘Our only dealings with DfL were with the Stratford Kiosks project which was cancelled last year when time and money apparently ran out. During that process Eleanor Fawcett and Esther Everett supported our ambitions for the project while assisting Newham [council] in their role as client. At that time the Stratford Kiosks project was our first venture into public sector works, competing at that level would have been a lot harder without their insight and support when things got tricky.’

Paul Finch, chair of CABE said: ‘CABE worked with DfL for London, particularly on the Olympic Design Review panel, where DFL’s input was informed and constructive.

‘It will be important for London that people with the same commitment and knowledge can contribute proactively to the capital’s future with good design as an underlying assumption. DfL’s work on landscape and public realm, which among other things won a World Architecture Festival award, will be much missed unless arrangement are put in place to take it forward.’



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