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London does not need a design tsar, say leading clients and developers

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Four of London’s most influential clients and developers have scotched suggestions that the capital needs a design tsar.

Speaking at the annual British Council for Offices conference in Brussels last week, Land Securities managing director Mike Hussey, Argent chief executive Roger Madelin, Hammerson director Peter Cole and Westminster head of planning Graham King were united in their condemnation of the need for an overarching design guru.

The quartet was asked by the AJ to comment on speculation that new London Mayor, Boris Johnson, may sign-up Terry Farrell as a replacement for Labour peer Richard Rogers as the Greater London Authority’s design champion.

Cole, whose firm Hammerson is behind some of London’s largest developments, including Bishops Square, Brent Cross shopping centre and the forthcoming vast regeneration of Cricklewood, said: ‘It is down to us [the client] to appoint good design teams. Why should one person have a view as to whether we are right or wrong?’

Argent chief executive Roger Madelin said the role could only work if the appointed architect ‘had absolute power’, and without that, a design tsar ‘would be just another layer of bureaucracy’.

King, who has overseen the development of a large swathe of the Westminster's 900,000 m2 of office space, also attacked the Rogers-backed London Plan and Mike Hussey, the man behind the regeneration of Victoria, added: ‘No, London does not need a design guru – unless it’s me. It’s not a job for one person, there should be a collective responsibility.’

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