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Malcolm Fraser questions the role of planners

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24 Jun 2008

Leading architect Malcolm Fraser has spoken out about the rising influence of planners in the design process - claiming architects are being usurped by planners, in effect marginalising the once valued role of the profession.

Writing in this issue he singles out Scottish Government chief planner Jim McKinnon for particular criticism saying "Quietly, by stealth, he appears to be nationalising architectural creativity, removing our lead role from us and passing it to a new profession of 'Design Planners', and through them imposing a 'New Urbanism'.

"I am concerned that these measures effectively nationalise architects' creative urban role. Although they have been casually confirmed to the RIAS and to me Ð this is happening without public or professional discussion, and without Government legislation."

He also sharply criticises the newly created role of design champion for Edinburgh, which he believes can work, as it has in Glasgow, but which has little effect if the champion, Sir Terry Farrell, has no connection to planning, and no power.

"It seems naive but I can only assume that he believed he would sketch out his exemplar masterplans and Edinburgh's Planners, traffic engineers, site owners, developers and architects would see the greater public good shining out of them, and change their plans to suit," he says.

 "The result has been a sort of displacement activity, absorbing the energy of Edinburgh's creative architects into a game of fantasy masterplanning, while the corporation gets on with business as usual."

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