CABE and English Heritage. How far are the government watchdogs helping or harming architectural innovation in Manchester?

“I have found that CABE and English Heritage present a relevant debate when it comes to certain aspects of architecture. The Chairman of English Heritage, Sir Neil Cossons recently commented (in a joint press release by CABE and EH following CABE’s Guideline for Tall Buildings statement) that cities are under pressure as never before, from a plethora of proposals for tall buildings. He has questioned the need for tall buildings and whether the public is actually interested in them. This comment has certainly issued doubt over whether there is room for larger, innovative buildings within the industry and has created a discussion amongst the greater public. CABE is supplementing this with the view that ‘appropriateness’ should be the standard to which the industry aims towards.

“In reality, the two perspectives are there for a very good reason, and that is to ensure the highest possible quality of build and design, with an eye fixed on whether or not the development is appropriate. I think that we are lucky to have these standards and we are fortunate that society cares about these issues.

“There is no doubt that Manchester is going through a new architectural revolution, but it is one that has been missing from the city since Victorian times. Some people have been waiting 50 years for Manchester to be rebuilt properly, and we can’t stop now we have just got going. Unfortunately the modernist age of the 60’s and 70’s caused more damage to the future of respected property development than many of us appreciate. Today’s new architecture isn’t just about new buildings, it’s about regeneration and cleaning the place up and in some parts of the city we desperately need that. Government watchdogs are genuinely doing a great job for the future, and in many cases that I’ve been involved in, their intervention delivers better architecture and a better vision for Manchester.”

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