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Stockport in masterplan furore

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The winner of a competition to masterplan Stockport's town centre has condemned the local council after it issued a fresh OJEC notice for the same site.

James Holyoak, who privately won an open competition at the beginning of the year, said he was 'dismayed' to discover last week that the council had 'unceremoniously dropped' his designs without informing him.

Holyoak has evidence, backed up by the RIBA, that proves the competition's backers had committed to build the winning design.

But Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council dismissed the criticism, insisting that it had 'never intended or made any promises to build the scheme'.

Holyoak told the AJ he was 'left amazed' when he discovered third hand that the council has decided to launch a new competition.

'I've been badly misled by the council and the public have been shamefully let down.

'This kind of cynical treatment of designers surely shouldn't be rewarded by more taxpayers'money, ' he said. 'The public and the jury chose and celebrated the vision that I designed and it's their choice that matters most.'

And Holyoak - who has contacted a firm of Birmingham lawyers about possible legal action - also accused the council of breaking copyright law. 'In the OJEC notice, the council was offering my scheme as a rough guide for the new designs.

'But it made it clear to me back in January that I owned the intellectual rights to my designs, ' he added.

If Holyoak's scheme had won the goahead, it would have included the creation of a new mixed-use retail and business quarter on the existing St Peter's Square and Mersey Square.

The Birmingham-based landscape architect has also won the support of John Lyall, a member of the judging panel. 'I certainly thought the council intended to build the winning design, ' Lyall said.

'It seemed strange to me at the time. The council appears to have used the winning designs as a springboard to get a lot of ideas but then not actually do anything with the scheme, ' Lyall added.

And the RIBA Competitions Office is gathering evidence for a report into the Stockport competition for the insititute's president, George Ferguson.

However, the council - which was also behind a stalled project by ABK for a new town hall won through the AJ/ippr's Designs on Democracy competition - has reacted angrily to Holyoak's accusations, describing his comments as 'incorrect in many aspects'.

'This young architect was certainly not fidumpedfl - the council approached him after the competition and offered him the chance to gain practical experience working with us to develop an improvement scheme for the area, ' a council statement said.

'We also discussed paying him a retainer, which we thought would be helpful to him, ' it added.

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