Anti-terror seminar pilots design skills

University of the West of England (UWE) planning students are the first in the UK to be trained on how to design out terrorism threats as part of their degree.

The course has been developed by the National Counter-Terrorism Security Office following a report by security minister Lord West, who urged planners to help in the fight against attacks (Planning, 7 March, p1).

A session held this week for UWE's 75 masters planning and urban design students took them through a notional attack in a busy city centre involving damage to buildings and loss of life.

The seminar aimed to get students to question the design of public spaces and buildings and consider how counter-terrorism measures might be incorporated. It also covered possible legal ramifications if such measures are not considered at the design stage.

The July 2007 attack at Glasgow Airport showed the way in which key buildings can be vulnerable, UWE planning lecturer Sandra Manley said. "Clearly we do not want city centres to become fortresses. Counter-terrorism measures must add positively to the public realm rather than being heavy blockades," she argued.

Avon and Somerset Police counter-terrorism security adviser Pete Naish, who is co-ordinating the training, added: "By looking to future designers and planners, we can make our buildings and cities safer." The university is to evaluate the training session with a view to including it as a permanent part of the course.

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