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Wolfson winner already 'in talks' over urban extensions

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Masterplanner URBED is working with councils and landowners on a number of projects based on the principles of its Wolfson prize-winning entry

Just four months after scooping £250,000 for its proposal for a major extension to fictional town Uxchester, the firm has already advised councils in Norwich and Taunton on how the concept could guide urban extensions already planned.

And David Rudlin, director at the practice, revealed to the AJ that URBED is assisting a number of landowners wanting to use its concepts to develop urban extensions.

He said the firm is initiating discussions with local authorities about getting these sites – many of which are in the Green Belt - adopted for development in their local plans.

‘The sites we are talking about wouldn’t lead to the extensions of 50,000 homes proposed in our entry, but would be around the size of one of the neighbourhoods - five to six thousand homes.

‘Some of the sites we are looking at already have small allocations within them but the landowner is interested in working at a larger scale.’

However, getting the sites included in local plans could take years because of the slow speed of the English planning process, he said.

The firm has also been working with Sheffield City Council on a report looking at how to apply the Wolfson Prize principles to a larger urban conurbation, which will be released shortly.

However, political sensitivities around protecting the Green Belt made discussions could mean that such conversations could be ‘like lighting a touchpaper’, he said.

Last week, he wrote to London’s Evening Standard, saying that the most common response by local politicians “is that our concepts made sense but were impossible in their locality’.

URBED would not work with landowners which did not want to work in partnership with local authorities on their plans, he stressed.

Rudlin also stressed that he did not want the Wolfson-winning entry to be used as a totem by free-market economists who wanted to completely scrap the planning system.

‘This is not about letting rip. It is about using the planning system to carefully release pressure in the right areas,” he said.
Rudlin said that all of those behind the shortlisted entries for the Wolfson prize were meeting to discuss how to ensure that pressure is kept on policy makers to follow through on Garden City ideals.

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