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Scottish CABE sidelined in Dundee

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Dundee City Council has marginalised Scottish design watchdog AD+S by granting planning permission to a controversial hotel and office proposal against the group's wishes.

The council has given the green light to the prominent city-centre development, despite AD+S' view at the end of last year that the application must 'not be rushed through' before 'more careful consideration'.

In December, the mixed-use scheme - designed by James F Stephens Architects - was felt by A+DS to lack 'sufficient architectural and place-making qualities to fully justify [its] critical position within the city and the council's ambitions for the future.'

The scheme comprises a 114-bedroom hotel, over 21,000m 2of office space and 103 off-street car parking spaces.

Despite the design watchdog's criticism, the council was happy, only a month later, to grant planning approval. Camlin Investments, the client, now hopes to start on site in May.

Given the site's close proximity to the railway station, bus routes and a new 600-space multi-storey car park, A+DS questioned the need for substantial on-site parking - viewing the building's rear use solely for car parking as a 'wasted opportunity'.

To satisfy its 'grave concerns' regarding the proposed building's height, A+DS requested 3D images showing the building in context; planning permission has been granted without these.

The watchdog also said that escape stairs should be relocated from their 'unacceptable' position at significant corner locations; project architect Doug Reed admitted to the AJ that no internal changes had taken place.

The council's decision to back the scheme, despite that fact that A+DS said it would not 'stitch successfully into the city fabric', will send shockwaves through the Scottish architectural scene.

A+DS has been in existence for less than 12 months and is currently attempting to secure a position in the Scottish planning system similar to that held by CABE south of the border.

by Will Hunter

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