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Prescott to anger EH as he grants CABE special access

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John Prescott has called on CABE to offer intimate advice on high-level strategic planning decisions.

CABE has now agreed to effectively act as a consultant to the Deputy Prime Minister over his final decision regarding controversial developments that have faced a public inquiry.

Speaking yesterday, Prescott said: 'It's frustrating that after CABE has offered the planning inspector advice, they can't offer me the [help] I would like to have when I make a decision.

'When the buck stops with me, I need the best possible advice I can [get].'

The move is likely to infuriate English Heritage, whose chance to comment on such schemes ends at the public inquiry stage.

It will not have the same access to the government that CABE is likely to enjoy, a state of affairs hinted at last month by the Richard Rogers-led Urban Task Force.

Prescott's statement came during a 'surprise' visit to the first of a new annual CABE conference, attended by its officials from across the country.

The Deputy Prime Minister used the opportunity to defend his position as the final arbiter of major planning decisions across the country.

The minister continued: 'When I made a decision on the Shard of Glass, people thought I was part of the Modernist [school].

'When I was caught in the crossfire between Quinlan Terry and Richard Rogers, people said I was in favour of the Classical style.

'But the truth is that only one in 2,000 applications come across my desk. And only 10 per cent of the calls I make are against the inspector's decision.'

Prescott went on to praise the 'wow effect' created by iconic architecture. He said: 'Developments such as the Bullring in Birmingham have given residents pride in their environment - [it] represents a fundamental change as a result of architecture.

'It's about raising the bar and creating a new built environment.

'We have avoided the urban sprawl that we see in the United States. But the quality of what is built is often mediocre and disappointing. The challenge is making the rest as good as the best.'

by Rob Sharp

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