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Sparks to take on design review

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Les Sparks is set to become the new chairman of CABE's design review committee (DRC), just six months after Ken Shuttleworth landed the role.

The move comes hot on the heels of the departure of the commission's former head, Stuart Lipton. At the time many blamed a report by government auditors, which suggested there might be potential conflicts of interest - namely between active property developers and architects and high-ranking commissioners.

Shuttleworth - who left Foster and Partners at the end of last year to set up his own practice, Make - will now become a member of a six-man team, led by Sparks, which includes the AJ's Paul Finch, Louisa Hutton, Robin Nicholson and Nicholas Serota. These commissioners will rotate the chairing of individual sessions between them, a move that will answer any criticism of conflicts of interest.

Sparks, a director of planning and architecture at Birmingham City Council from 1991 to 1999, brings a wealth of senior local-government experience and knowledge to the post.

He was integral in the transformation of England's second city and has been closely involved in a range of award-winning projects to improve Birmingham's city centre through regeneration and the creation of new public spaces.

He has also worked as a specialist adviser to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Crown Estate and Nottingham City Council.

Peter Stewart, CABE's director of design review, welcomed the appointment. He said: 'Les brings a wealth of experience and skills to the post. He will continue to lead the committee in their task of reviewing a broad range of projects from masterplans to individual buildings, and to distinguish good design from bad design.

'His appointment will reinforce the good relationship between CABE and English Heritage and ensure our advice is consistent, ' Stewart added.

Sparks will continue to chair the CABE/English Heritage Urban Panel, which advises on major development issues in historic towns and cities. He will take up the DRC chairmanship on 1 October 2004.

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