When Hammermsith and Fulham Council approves hideous new developments the planning officers retort that actually it’s of good design as it has been approved by an independent Design Panel of experts.
So who is on the Design Panel? Four or five members are gathered to review proposals. Here is the full list of members:
Max de Rosee
Overwhelmingly these are modernist architects.
Just Google a name and see the monstrosities they are responsible for. So the design review process is circular and self fulfilling.
An exception, but not a welcome one, is Barbara Woda. Her background is of a planner rather than an architect – but with the same modernist prejudices. For many years was Head of Urban Design and Hammersmith and Fulham Council and she has had a crucial role in making our borough uglier.
A national design panel for new housing was recently announced by the Government – to include neo-classical architect Quinlan Terry, Professor of aesthetics Roger Scruton and a representative from Create Streets.
So why is the local design panel a modernist monopoly? Why couldn’t the Council include on it local architects who champion beauty such as Peregrine Bryant? Or local residents such as Anthony Jelley – who has done detailed work with the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community?
The reason is that the planning officers want a rubber stamp. They want a committee of tower block enthusiasts that can be relied upon to endorse proposals for more tower blocks. Then they can claim a spurious endorsement in an effort to stifle criticism.
In their manifesto for the Council elections last year Labour promised “to work with an independent design panel on all major developments”. That rather implied they felt something different should take place to what was already happening. But the Panel has the same people and operates in much the same way. There are no plans to change it. So another broken Labour promise.