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Barker delights RIBA, but landscape architects remain unconvinced

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The RIBA has responded with undisguised joy to the publication of Kate Barker's report into planning.

The institute believes that the document, commissioned by Chancellor Gordon Brown, covers many of the issues for which it has spent the past three years lobbying.

President Jack Pringle has made it a priority of his tenure to bring the importance of architecture and design to the attention of mandarins at the Treasury.

'I am delighted that Kate Barker engaged personally with the RIBA during the preparation of her report,' Pringle said. 'She has clearly listened carefully and I am pleased that she has recognised the need for an efficient and well-resourced planning system that can encourage high-quality design.

'Her report answers many of the calls we made in our own Manifesto for Architectureand in our subsequent discussions.

'In particular I welcome her endorsement of pre-application discussions, design champions, flexible use classes and the use of local design-review panels.

'These, together with her recommendations for better-trained planning-committee members and officers and greater use of external organisations, can only improve decision making and deliver a better-quality built environment.

'I also welcome her support for extending permitted development rights for minor consents and microgeneration.

'This will free up capacity within local planning authorities to deal with more important cases and give a much-needed boost to efforts to improve the environmental performance of building stock,' Pringle added.

However, this effusive response was not echoed by Landscape Institute president Nigel Thorne.

'We will want to be reassured that if a Planning Commission is set up for major projects, landscape expertise will be at the heart of it,' he said.

'Strategic landscape planning is critical to such major projects and landscape architecture skills are essential for the mix of expertise when analysing the issues involved in the creation of new towns and the siting of new airports, roads or energy generation installations,' he added.

by Ed Dorrell

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