Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence

Memorandum by Grosvenor (UK and Ireland) (CAB 32)

  1.  Stephen Musgrave BSc MRICS, Chief Executive, submits evidence on behalf of Grosvenor (UK and Ireland).

  2.  Grosvenor is a privately-owned international property company. It has major holdings throughout the UK and it operates internationally with offices in North America, Continental Europe and the Far East.

    It is an investor, developer and manager of property both in its own right, through its numerous partnerships and through its fund management business.

  3.  From time-to-time Grosvenor presents design proposals to CABE, including masterplans for mixed-use developments and proposals for individual buildings.

  4.  These have recently included the masterplan proposals for largescale mixed-use developments in Liverpool, Preston and Bath and individual building proposals for Central London, Cambridge and Liverpool.

  5.  Whenever possible, Grosvenor has had informal discussions with CABE officers prior to submitting planning applications and before CABE formal reviews. Such discussions have been extremely useful in helping Grosvenor to ensure that it is achieving the standard of work to which we aspire and are being sufficiently creative. They have also enabled us to benefit from experience elsewhere and from arms length consideration of some issues in which the project team have become immersed. We are aware that CABE's involvement has also acted as a spur to our designers.

  6.  In the case of Liverpool, a CABE representative attended early workshops when the principles of the masterplan were being debated amongst stakeholders, the general public and Grosvenor's consultants. They also contributed to discussions Grosvenor and Liverpool City Council had about the most appropriate way in which to take that project through the planning process; giving the developer sufficient certainty as early as possible, while giving the planning authorities sufficient control over subsequent design development.

    Those discussions involved the Local Planning Authority, English Heritage, CABE and the Government Office for the North West. The result has enabled the project to proceed on the basis of a comprehensive masterplan that settled the use, footprint and massing of all thirty buildings, together with public transport, highways and servicing issues and the results of thorough environmental assessments, while leaving time for ongoing design and consultation as the design of the individual buildings and of the extensive public realm proceeds. It gave the Stakeholders adequate time for financial negotiations and legal agreements and for proceeding with compulsory purchase and road closure orders. CABE made a significant contribution to the discussions that resulted in this approach, which is now used as an exemplar for largescale, urgently needed city centre redevelopment.

  7.  Grosvenor has also benefited in its work from the various publications that CABE has produced; and from the conferences that it has organised, in which Grosvenor has been pleased to participate.

  8.  Grosvenor's experience with CABE's formal design panel reviews, however, has been somewhat less satisfactory. In our opinion, insufficient time and space is allocated for the proper explanation and discussion of sometimes very complex issues. Sometimes the lack of preparation and attention by some reviewers has not been worthy of the importance which clients and consultants attach to the reviews; nor commensurate with the weight that decision-makers attach to comments made at the reviews and to the published reports. In our opinion, the reviews would be more effective and much more useful if a small number of relevantly experienced reviewers were able to give sufficient time to properly listen to explanations and to discuss proposals in depth.

  9.  Finally, we welcome CABE's efforts to broaden the experience and attitudes on which it draws to more fully embrace provincial architectural, urban design and planning practitioners, and academics; and to try harder to develop a national consensus regarding good design, instead of what sometimes appeared to be a rather narrow, metropolitan point of view.

  10.  In general, Grosvenor supports the Commission and looks forward to working with it in the future.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2004
Prepared 27 October 2004