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Meeting:              “Why All Politicians Need A Designer Around – The Role Of Design
                      Champions For Government, Cities And Organisations"
                      held at 5.30pm on Wednesday 4 June 2008 in Room TG20-21, Scottish

Our Ref:              EM SL R10-mins2008-06-04

Alastair Hackland                Hackland & Dore Architects
Alastair Keyte                   3DReid Architects
Alistair Scott                   Smith Scott Mullan Associates
Andrew Bayne                     ABC Masterplanning
Angela Williams                  A+DS
Arnie Dunn                       RIAS
Clare Sorensen                   Historic Houses Association
Dennis O’Keefe                   Scottish Government/NHS Scotland
Dermot Paterson                  LDN Architects
Diana Murray                     RCAHMS
Donald Canavan                   Hurd Rolland Architects
Donald Coutts                    TCD Architects
Eric Dawson                      A+DS
Eugene Mullan                    RIAS
Frank McAveety, MSP              Scottish Parliament
Frazer Hay                       Napier University
Jack Hugh                        EAA
James Murray                     Cockburn Association
John Lawson                      CECAS
John McLean                      3DReid Architects
Malcolm Fraser                   Malcolm Fraser Architects
Matt Bridgestock                 John Gilbert Architects
Neil Baxter                      RIAS
Pat Lally                        RIAS
Patrick Harvie, MSP              Scottish Parliament
Philip Singleton                 Birmingham City Council
Professor Jordan                 Cockburn Society
Riccardo Marini                  City of Edinburgh Council
Robin Harper, MSP                Scottish Parliament
Ross McEwan                      JUMP, Leith Docks Group
Sebastian Tombs                  A+DS
Shaeron Averbuck                 JUMP, Leith Docks Group
Steven Tolson                    Ogilvie
Trevor Davies                     University of Glasgow

Adrian Masson                     NHS Quality Improvement Scotland
Alice McGlone                     City of Edinburgh Council
Andrew Leslie                     RIAS
Ann Packard                       Royal Society of Arts
Anne Crawford                     City of Edinburgh Council
Bob Foggo                         Scottish Executive
Brian Adam, MSP                   Scottish Parliament
Christopher Dingwall              Guidelines
David McLuckie                    Borders NHS
Dr Allan Gunning                  NHS Ayrshire & Arran
Elaine Morris                     City of Edinburgh Council
Gareth Hoskins                    Gareth Hoskins Architects
Gerry Grams                       Glasgow City Council
Graham U’Ren                      Dundas & Wilson
Heather Chapple                   A+DS
Howard Liddell                    Gaia
Jackie Sainsbury                  Lothian NHS Board
Jeff Ace                          NHS Dumfries & Galloway
Jennifer Ballantyne               McGrigors LLP
John Duff                         RICS
John O’Connell                    NHS Scotland
John Wilson                       NHS Fife Design Champion
Julie Carter                      Golden Jubilee National Hospital
Mike Galloway                     Dundee City Council
Miles Oglethorpe                  Historic Scotland
Moira Tasker                      Cockburn Association
Veronica Burbridge                RTPI in Scotland

Robin Harper MSP (Convenor)
Patricia Ferguson MSP (Vice Convenor)
Veronica Burbridge (Treasurer)
Eugene Mullan (Secretary)
Cross Party Group Subscription Members


 •    Robin Harper MSP welcomed all present to the meeting.

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 •    The minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 15 December 2007 were approved.


 •    There were no matters arising from this meeting.


 •    Delivering design quality requires strong leadership and there have been calls for all
      public bodies with a responsibility for delivering and managing the built environment
      to appoint a “design champion”. The role of these design champions will vary but
      the purpose is clear and that is to provide leadership and motivation, ensuring that
      every relevant organisation or project has a clear vision and strategy for delivering
      good design.


 •    The Convenor gave a brief introduction. Riccardo has worked in both the public and
      private sectors and whilst teaching at the University of Strathclyde, produced
      Glasgow’s Urban Design Strategy “City for People”. Riccardo held an active role in
      Glasgow UK City of Architecture and Design 1999 and in 2002, was asked to advise
      the Provincia di Treviso on Urbanism matters and since then has acted as an
      advisor to Faenza Turin and Pistoia. In April 2004 he was appointed the City of
      Edinburgh’s City Design Leader and is responsible for the Cities Design Initiative.

 •    Riccardo gave a stimulating and very visual presentation explaining the challenges
      of the current system of creating places and the silo mentality which has been
      generated by the wide range of professionals working in distinct topics highlighting
      our inability to place make. He showed examples where the results of an alternative
      approach produce a much better result, stating that “design is value”.

 •    Riccardo referred to Buckminster Fuller’s statement which captures his view on
      design “when he was working on a design he did not think of beauty but when he got
      to a solution: if it was not beautiful he knew there was something wrong”.

 •    The essence of Riccardo’s talk was that unless there is significant change in
      political, senior officer and organisations ethos of design then Design Champions
      are merely “Lipstick on the Monkey”. He looks forward to a time when a Design
      Champion would not be required and when the importance of the design quality is
      inherent to the process being undertaken.

 •    Riccardo highlighted the Spring issue of Prospect magazine which outlines in detail
      the previous and proposed actions of Terry Farrell, the Design Champion and the

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      Design Leader in Edinburgh. He also highlighted The Urban Room which has been
      created in the Quadrangle of the City Chambers on the High Street, including a 9m x
      9m aerial photograph of the city.


 •    The Convenor gave a brief introduction. Philip Singleton is Acting Assistant Director
      of City Centre Development at Birmingham City Council where he coordinates a
      multi-disciplinary team focussed on city centre development and oversees the work
      of the City Centre Masterplan. As Birmingham’s City Design Advisor, his task is to
      champion good design and produce a clear vision for Birmingham reflecting its
      international standing and the aspirations of its communities.

 •    Philip highlighted the following key aspects of the design led renaissance in
      Birmingham -
      • Private sector drivers.
      • Political vision.
      • Heritage and contemporary.
      • Public Space – Good Urban Design
      • Successful Collaboration

 •    He explained his city design team and how they relate to internal and external
      organisations. The mission of the team is as follows –

       “The City Design Team lies at the heart of the planning service. From here we
       use our skills to drive out mediocrity in design and enable excellence in future
        developments. We motivate those responsible for the renewal of places and
               spaces to provide the best, for all the people of Birmingham”.

      The role of the team is communication, advocacy and negotiation and Philip
      elaborated on practicalities of what this means on a day-to-day basis in relation to
      planning applications, development frameworks, streetscape proposals etc.

 •    Philip highlighted the following key points as critical to the success of the design
      champion role –
      • Relationship with central government.
      • Seniority of Design Advisor.
      • Cash v quality.
      • Relationship with communities.
      • Inward investment/reputation.
      • Management of spatial change.

 •    Philip talked about Birmingham Big City Plan (“Global City, Local Heart”),
      highlighting their themes of “Liveable City, Familicity, Univercity, Authenticity,

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      Audacity, Smartcity, Complexcity, Connecticity, Divercity, Centricity Plan”.


 •    Trevor is an honorary Professor or Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow and
      is developing high level education for political and professional leaders in city-
      making. From 2003-2007 he was Convenor of the Planning Committee in the City of
      Edinburgh Council. In that role he instigated the appointment of Sir Terry Farrell as
      Edinburgh’s “Design Champion”. This was the first post of its kind in the UK and has
      since been widely imitated.

 •    When Trevor was elected to Edinburgh City Council in 2001 and went on the
      Planning Committee, the key political question that struck him was why members of
      the Committee often approved developments that they knew were not really good
      enough? And that many politicians didn’t really know what they wanted their city to
      be like next year, or in ten years.

 •    He highlighted local authorities as doing three kinds of things –
      • It provides services.
      • It regulates.
      • It does “city making”. A long-term activity and usually involving outsiders. As
          elections are short term and outsiders don’t vote, this activity tends to suffer
          from a lack of interest and perhaps why committee members were approving
          what they knew wasn’t really good enough.

 •    Trevor sees politics as the art of the possible and that what was needed was to
      expand what was possible and hence Edinburgh’s Design Initiative came about.

 •    It received a mixed reception with some seeing it as “worrisome”. Large scale
      housebuilders found and still find it hard as although many of them have the ability
      to build good places and have done so, often this is not the case. Traffic engineers
      were also less keen on becoming involved.

 •    Although the Design Initiative has always functioned on a tiny budget, its major
      asset was Sir Terry Farrell, holding the role of Design Champion, who in an
      unsalaried position reiterated what design meant and what it could achieve.

 •    Trevor explained further that the tools urban design give to politicians are “many and
      indispensable. It enables them to shape social interactions, to promote fair uses of
      all that a place offers, to control carbon emissions, to encourage tolerance, promote
      prosperity and much more”. Design can benefit all of us as it “narrates what a whole
      place can be year, in ten years”.

 •    He briefly talked about the city region plan (2020-2040 vision). This plan, which
      drew full cross party support when it was presented, showed how design thinking

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      could help in the consideration of a large scale, long term future and that he hoped it
      would form the basis of the City Region Plan.

 •    Trevor closed by stating his view that Ministers and Parliament make laws and
      councillors and councils make places.


 •    There was a robust discussion around the topic of the role of Design Champions
      touching on the following aspects.

 •    A robust defence of the role of the architects with a query as to why we were “not
      here to talk about architects”. There was an expectation that if architects were given
      their rightful position in design and decision making that there would be no role for
      Design Champions or many other urbanism professions.

 •    The importance of the client was highlighted with a suggestion that “the place” is the

 •    It was suggested that the best Design Champion for local authorities is the Lord

 •    Philip noted that the new Chair of Birmingham Planning Committee has an MSc in
      Urban Design and it will be interesting to see how this influences Committee

 •    The importance of ministers leading by example in relation to procurement of all
      buildings and places from public funds was highlighted.

 •    There was discussion on whether the Design Champion role was primarily one for
      local authorities or if there was a role for central government, particularly in relation
      to setting the agendas. There was a concern that Scotland’s government is at risk
      of becoming “Caledonian Council” if it becomes too prescriptive.

 •    Malcolm Fraser requested that Robin take up his request to consider a meeting
      which is truly addressing this topic and challenging developers and architects
      accordingly. Robin agreed to consider this suggestion.

 •    There was general disappointment at the limited number of MSPs in attendance as
      the presentations were targeted at policy makers.


 •    Robin Harper concluded the discussion due to time restrictions. He highlighted the
      very successful AGM of the Group which took place 8th May 2008, attended by 9
      MSPs. Robin thanked Pat Lally for his influence in encouraging such a large
      number to attend.

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•   Neil Baxter (RIAS) noted that the MSPs attending the AGM had suggested themes
    which they felt could be developed in Cross Party Group meetings and that the
    intention is that the RIAS engages in direct discussion with MSPs on how these
    topics should be developed into future meetings. It is hoped that this approach will
    encourage a wider range of MSPs to attend the meetings.

•   The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 24 September 2008, title of which to
    be confirmed.

•   Close of meeting was approximately 7.00pm and Robin thanked everyone for

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