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Monday, November 13, 2006
Pathfinder blues, Ikea news
One pathfinder is innovating: Ikea is about to enter the first planning application for its BokLok homes in Gateshead. The flatpack homes will have their UK launch at the Building Centre later this month.

But another is in the news for all the wrong reasons: because it is apparently 'ignoring' a design review panel in the area, seeing it as a thorn in the flesh.

Liverpool’s design review body has not been shown any detailed planning applications for new housing in the controversial housing market renewal area. The Liverpool Urban Design & Conservation Advisory Panel (Ludcap) has grave concerns about the quality of schemes now being built and passing through planning, which it has been denied the opportunity to comment on because it is seen as “a thorn in the flesh”. The panel’s frustration follows a row between the pathfinder and Cabe in the summer, when the design watchdog opposed compulsory purchase orders in the area. It later dropped its opposition.

A source close to the panel expressed frustration at the authorities’ reluctance to use its design expertise, and suggested it was seen as “a thorn in the flesh, an unnecessary bother.” The source criticised the quality of housing now on site in the pathfinder, which has caused massive national controversy because it involves large-scale demolition of terraced housing.

“If the planning authority, which has the power to say yes or no, can’t influence the developers, how can a body like Ludcap?” said David Birkbeck, chief executive of Design for Homes.

He added that developers were more concerned with the Building for Life criteria, used by English Partnerships and taking architectural quality as only one element, than with design review.

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