Diary

Planners at consultancy David Lock Associates thought that they were in for an early Christmas present this year when a large delivery arrived at their Milton Keynes offices.

However, their delight was short-lived when they discovered that it was actually an environmental statement for an outline planning application for 5,000 homes fresh from the printers. "I do not think that we have ever had an environmental statement for a single planning application delivered on a pallet before," says director Laurence Revill.

The size of the offering resulted from the local planning authority's demand for 24 copies of every single piece of information connected with the proposal, Revill says. Another authority is happy with four copies and CD-ROMs for similar-sized schemes, he notes.

"Apart from being fairly confident that no-one will ever read this stuff, it is the inconsistency that drives us barmy," he adds. "Imagine trying to submit this via the Planning Portal. It would be good to know that the simplified planning system is promoting a sustainable approach to using paper."

Could this be the UK's largest environmental statement, Diary wonders? Is there anyone who can confess to reading a whole one? Send your answers to planning@haymarket.com

Government review team leader John Callcutt got a warm reception for his proposals on how to speed up house building delivery.

As he was delivering the findings, the former English Partnerships chief executive was thrown off guard by a loud noise from the audience. Fearing the worst, he asked the crowd: "Was that a heckle?" But he need not have worried.

The interrupter, CB Richard Ellis head of regeneration Jackie Sadek, reassured him that her contribution was not a jeer but a cheer. "We are just so delighted," she enthused, welcoming his proposals for urban renewal. Relieved that he was not about to be pelted with rotten tomatoes, Callcutt added: "In that case, heckle away."

Diary got deja vu on hearing Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe's pitch to sell the idea of tall buildings to a sceptical public.

Commenting on the publication of sketches for towers on three major disused brownfield sites in the French capital, Delanoe mused: "Why should Paris turn its back on the great wave of architectural creativity that has washed through other great metropolises?"

It was unclear whether this great wave has helped to clean up London or whether other world cities have benefited from such an inundation. But critics, including Delanoe's Green deputy, who branded the proposals "pretentious", can rest assured. "I will accept no project that is not a true work of art," the mayor pledged.

On the subject of grand, utopian gestures, tourist offices in Leeds and London have teamed up with the people behind the SimCity computer game to bring to life visitors' ideas for dream cities.

Most participants want a mixture of contemporary and historical architecture in a setting surrounded by water. Consultant planner Gregory Kuzmin praised this way of "democratising city-building".


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