FOI correspondence obtained by the AJ shows top architects lobbying Sadiq Khan after his election victory
London’s new mayor Sadiq Khan has turned down separate meeting requests with three of the UK’s most prominent architects by citing his busy schedule.
Correspondence released under Freedom of Information to the Architects’ Journal shows that Richard Rogers and Terry Farrell – both advisors to former mayors – wrote to Khan in the wake of his election victory in May, as did RIBA president Jane Duncan.
Rogers –a Labour peer and former advisor to mayor Ken Livingstone as well as a founding partner of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners – wrote with congratulations on the election result saying it was ‘fantastic’ that London had a mayor ‘committed to tackling the housing crisis’ and other significant issues.
Rogers added: ‘As you probably know, I advised Ken Livingstone as his chief advisor on architecture and urbanism, and also worked for Boris Johnson briefly. More recently, I have been working with Andrew Adonis and Tessa Jowell on how we might tackle some of London’s big problems. I would be very happy to come in and discuss these issues, and to offer any help I can.’
The architect also mentioned that he had been looking at an ‘alternative strategy’ for HS2’s London interchange.
A reply sent to Rogers the following month by a GLA officer on Khan’s behalf thanked him for his ‘early engagement’ but said the mayor was still in the process of assembling his team and suggested a forthcoming meeting with a deputy mayor.
In his letter, Terry Farrell also congratulated the new mayor before asking him about his intentions towards the mayor’s existing design advisory panel which Farrell is part of.
Farrell complained that the panel had ‘not had the level of input from the former mayor we were hoping for’.
He added: ‘I have a long experience in this area, having advised a number of Labour ministers and peers including Yvette Cooper, Caroline Flint, Andrew Adonis and Bob Kerslake.’
Prior to his meeting request, Farrell also cited Farrells’ work on a number of London projects including Old Oak Common, a wide-ranging proposal for low level bridges across the Thames which he said could facilitate up to 40,000 new homes and examining the proposed HS2 interchange at Euston.
In a response sent to Farrell by another GLA official, the architect was told that the mayor was ‘extremely grateful’ for the invitation to meet but too busy in the coming months. Instead, it was suggested that Farrell meet with deputy mayor for housing James Murray.
Jane Duncan wrote to offer the support of her and the RIBA in tackling major issues such as school design and the housing crisis. She also asked whether the mayor would like to attend a celebration on July 1st of the RIBA’s National Schools Programme.
Duncan received a reply from Khan himself which thanked her for the letter and added that he was ‘honoured and humbled’ by his victory. However, it said that his diary was ‘already committed’ on the day of the RIBA event and wished her ‘every success’ with it. Murray subsequently attended on the mayor’s behalf.
Hellman Sadiq London mayor