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The Politics with Planning - a fine balance

LSBU's Alumni Association recently invited a panel of industry experts to debate the socio-political impact of current planning processes in London
02 June 2015

Experts on urban planning policy addressed an audience of London South Bank University (LSBU) alumni, staff and students, at an LSBU Alumni Association event on the merits and flaws of London's planning system.

With the landscape of the built environment rapidly changing in London, the topic was hotly debated by a panel of planning professionals, chaired by Dr Matthew Barac, Research Leader in Architecture at LSBU. First to speak was Nick Cuff, LSBU Alumnus (MSc Real Estate, 2011) and Land Director at Pocket Living, a London based residential developer delivering affordable housing for London's first-time buyers. Speaking in response were Gary Yardley, also an LSBU Alumnus (BSc Estate Management, 1989) and now Managing Director & Chief Investment Officer at global business consultancy Capco, and Emma Dent Coad, a Labour Party councillor and frequent writer on architecture and design.

The audience enjoyed a fiery debate between panellists, centred on the controversial regeneration 'Masterplan' for the Earl's Court area in London, a development led by Capco and strongly challenged by Emma Dent Coad on socio-economic grounds. The event highlighted frustrations with the current planning system from all sides of the debate. The panel described how local planners are claiming to be held back by savvy-developers with seemingly unlimited resources, and how architects are in dismay at what they see as the 'managerialisation' of the design team. Calls for collaboration between professionals seem to outweigh the need for collaboration with local residents, who are often the most affected by large-scale developments and also often the most overlooked.

The event was the third in a series of LSBU Alumni Association debates in partnership with the School of The Built Environment and Architecture. Previous events considered the rise of tall buildings in London and the King's Cross – Human City development. There are over 11,000 LSBU Built Environment alumni and the events are part of an ongoing project to connect alumni with one another, as well as with current students, on some of the challenges and opportunities that exist across the sector. Alumni in the built environment professions are encouraged to get in touch with the Alumni Association if they would like to find out more.