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Comments (11)

  • Comment on: Councils lose £12 million in planning appeal costs

    L T SPARKS's comment 7 November, 2016 12:00 pm

    Whilst I acknowledge Peter Stewart's scenario about costs being awarded against Councils in planning appeals, I cannot agree with his prescription.

    Officers sometimes give poor advice, particularly when they have been worn down through protracted negotiations with a persistent developer to the point where they feel obliged to recommend approval. The political culture that tells planners that they have a duty to enable development to succeed predisposes them to negotiation rather than rejecting outright a fundamentally bad proposal.

    The ability of members to take an uncompromised position and recognise the inherent unworthiness of an application is an important principal. To intimidate them by threats of an award of costs is to load the dice in favour of an officers' compromised position. It would also be impossible to indicate what those costs would be, should they so arise.

    As one moves around the country, it is all too obvious that the planning system currently offers very little constraint against poor development. Let's not hamper it at every stage.

  • Comment on: Profession divided over new tall buildings guidance

    L T SPARKS's comment 11 December, 2015 5:00 pm

    EH and DC Cabe consulted on joint guidance12 months ago...so why the delay? In fairness, this HE Advice Note is not narrowly heritage focussed; it identifies some advantages of tall buildings in the right places and advocates the identification of such locations in local plans. Nevertheless, with so many tall building proposals around, it is urgently needed to highlight the damage they can cause to historic places and to guide imminent decisions. Unfortunately guidance often gets ignored by powerful decision makers, as when the execrable 20 Fenchurch Street was approved. The cover photograph on the Advice Note, showing it in conjunction with Tower Bridge, just about says it all.
    Typically, the AJ relates the guidance exclusively to London, but of course it is relevant to all our great cities.

  • Comment on: Take two: LDS bags planning for reworked Crossrail development

    L T SPARKS's comment 20 March, 2015 11:24 am

    Cabe's Crossrail Design Review Panel was highly critical of the previous scheme for its size and design; Westminster disregarded our views. This revised proposal is even bigger! In my view, the massing is crude and quite unworthy of such a favoured location on Hanover Square. It does a huge disservice to Crossrail by association.
    Les Sparks (former chair of Cabe's Crossrail DRP)

  • Comment on: Chinese President demands end to 'weird architecture'

    L T SPARKS's comment 23 October, 2014 2:39 pm

    Well said, Mr President. If only better judgement had been applied in London we might not have had the stupid 'Walkie Talkie' building spoiling views from the South Bank.

  • Comment on: Obituary: Philip Dowson (1924 – 2014)

    L T SPARKS's comment 29 August, 2014 11:24 am

    Here in Birmingham, Dowson developed an industrialised building method for new laboratories at the university, based on a three-dimensional geometry of multiple grids.

    In a paper to the RIBA in February 1966 he reflected on "the richness and variety of space that can be created within the strict geometrical disciplines that are the reflection of an industrialised method".

    He went on to warn that "although [industrialisation] is compelling us the whole time to learn a new language of methods, even an exceptional command of a language does not necessarily imply the possession of any valuable ideas to express".

    Another illustration of his belief that architecture is a combination of art and science.

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