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Obituary: Clive Dutton (1953 – 2015)

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Urban regeneration and planning expert Clive Dutton has died, aged 62

Dutton was best known for his regeneration work in Birmingham, Belfast, and the London Borough of Newham.

He joined Newham Council in 2009, and as executive director of regeneration and inward investment was tasked with transforming the area ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games. His work in Newham included the development of the Stratford Metropolitan Masterplan and developments including Wilkinson Eyre’s Siemens Crystal and the Westfield Shopping Centre at Stratford. Dutton was also responsible for planning for the Olympics site’s legacy and paved the way for the upcoming Olympicopolis project.

In Birmingham, where Dutton was director of planning and regeneration at the council from 2005 - 2009, he spearheaded huge development projects aimed at transforming the city, including the £600 million New Street Station Project and Mecanoo’s Stirling-shortlisted Library of Birmingham, Patel Taylor’s Eastside City Park and Make’s Cube.

Through his Big City Plan, Dutton extended Birmingham’s city centre from 80 hectare to 800, regenerating Paradise Circus and setting the wheels in motion for the demolition of the John Madin-designed Central Library – which is still yet to begin.

Dutton left Newham council in 2013 to set up his own consultancy. It was then that he was reappointed to tackle Belfast’s Gaeltacht Quarter. This came ten years after the regeneration guru produced the Dutton Report into regenerating West Belfast after the Good Friday Agreement.

In 2013, Dutton alongside arts dealer Megan Piper, co-founded the Line – a modern art walk through East London featuring works by artists including Antony Gormley, Martin Creed, Damian Hirst and Eduardo Paolozzi.

He also worked for the government on the Urban Task Force, the Urban White Paper, and the Oldham Independent Review.

Dutton was awarded an OBE for services to regeneration in 1998. It is understood he died following a battle with cancer.


Philip Singleton, chief executive of Millenium Point, Birmingham
‘Art, architecture, football, music, travel, photography, politics, style, scarves, regeneration and city planning. A very rich list, crammed into too few years by one man.

‘The indefatigable Clive Dutton started his working day earlier and finished later than anyone I know; that’s how he did it – so much in those years.  I could not beat him in in the mornings and, however late at night at sessions he often convened on future thinking, he would be the first in, every day.

‘Others will write more about Clive, my years working with him in London and Birmingham were only six. But they were intense. He would always shoot for the moon and leave you to build the rocket and figure out how to get there.

He’d always shoot for the moon and leave you to build the rocket

‘Such is the manner of city planning, Clive’s ideas are fulfilled and often completed by others; every day I look at Birmingham and I see the Library, New Street Station, Arena Central, Paradise Circus and the Golden Square. Closest to my daily work - the Eastside City Park, here we failed in a Big Lottery bid to fund the new park and that day Clive burst into the Council chief exec’s office and came out with the money to pay for it.  It got built and has won a stream of awards. 

‘Another memory; the labyrinthine complexity and hugely counterproductive ownerships at New Street Station meant this most essential project crept along, driven by political force and Clive’s tenacity, then it started to look as though the big, single idea to re-master the place was achievable. A day for celebration. A few weeks later Clive said: ‘I think we can build a huge new John Lewis store on top’.  That simply typified the man. That store opens this September.

‘City Council politics with both the small and large P, is a pretty testing place, yet Clive seemed to often create the waves and then ride them.  He built trust, vision and advocacy for the ruling group, and then he delivered, so his ratings were very high indeed.  Birmingham can sometimes drop good ideas a little too swiftly, but the Big City Plan was a Clive idea that became one of the biggest tools to configure a future for 800 hectares of city, ever.  It continues still to spawn plans and projects and envelopes the way the city is marketed and understood.  When a city has to compete the way Birmingham does, having a coherent message for its Plan is so, so critical.  Birmingham feels better now than it has done for an absolute age.  It will literally be taller and tastier then before.

‘Clive would be so proud of the projects delivered, the projects in the pipeline, to the news about HSBC, the fact that a new bar or restaurant or food fair opens now seemingly weekly.

‘The speed with which he impacted on London was visible, he made connections, promoted the east and worked with two mayors, Boris and Sir Robin to pull off big thinking and projects that prove his legacy.  He was the honey-pot, the bees came to him.

‘He was the only boss I know who would high-five you in the street.’

Hanif Kara of AKTII
‘Clive Dutton was a generous and inspiring man whom I  will miss dearly. He was able to cut through bureaucracy through sheer intellect and charm. I first met him when he started transforming Birmingham and was our client on the New Street Station and shared his passions when he moved to London.

‘With Megan Piper he was leading ‘The Line’ project and had persuaded us to join their team. The project was launched only days ago. My thoughts are with his family. RIP.’

Kevin Singh, head of school at Birmingham School of Architecture
‘In a city that constantly re-invents itself, Clive Dutton’s tenure at Birmingham City Council brought some much needed stability, vision, and ambition to it’s future plans. The Big City plan which he championed has become an invaluable physical and aspirational framework for the development of the city, a plan which has already delivered results and is continuing to make it’s mark on a burgeoning metropolis which is finally gaining the recognition it deserves as a great place to live, work, and play.’

John Prevc of Make
‘We learnt today of the sad news that our friend and collaborator Clive Dutton had passed away. We first met Clive in 2005 during the early design stages of The Cube building in Birmingham; Clive was the director of planning and regeneration at Birmingham City Council.
‘His encouragement and clarity of thought helped steer the design through the planning process, allowing us the creative freedom to develop a landmark for the city. His support will never be forgotten.’



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Readers' comments (1)

  • As Newham Council’s (then) Executive Member for Regeneration, I worked with Clive for the four years he led the Council’s Regeneration Team. He was a man with real passion, vision and integrity and was well liked and respected by all who worked with him. He joined Newham in 2009 as our Executive Director of Regeneration and Inward Investment and helped deliver some of the biggest regeneration projects the borough has ever seen.

    With the then impending opening of the Westfield Stratford shopping centre (in 2011) and the 2012 Olympic Games looming, we wanted someone to raise our game to meet the new challenges and in particular to clear the path for inward investment.
    He helped to create an inward investment story for Newham building on the borough’s massive potential for investment, growth, greater prosperity and excellent transport links.
    He oversaw the landmark Siemens Crystal, one of the world’s most sustainable buildings at the Royal Victoria Dock and achieved Enterprise Zone status for the Royal Docks;

    Always the optimist, he was a joy to work with.

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