Knowledge is power this week as readers ponder the unknown factors affecting the new planning rules, rail against the complexity of government schemes and put Hansom right on an issue of detail

Cut the red tape

I read with interest the news article entitled “Government housebuilding fund winners revealed” as it announced the FirstBuy scheme, launched by the Homes and Communities Agency. This is great news for the registered providers named. The sales of these homes will help to cross-subsidise their programmes, encouraging further development and hopefully creating homes for rent.

However, it may not matter that the funding is there for these homes; one area that is as yet unknown is how the new planning rules will affect these developments, especially as nimbys start to test the water with their new powers. We could be in danger of developing bottlenecks as projects get caught up in the legal wrangling of land transfers and planning requirements.

The government must ensure it remains focused on the endgame and ensures the processes are in place to get developments through to completion in a timely manner, without worrying about massaging the figures to suit their political ambitions!

Mash Halai, head of residential development and regeneration, John Rowan & Partners

Credit where it’s due

Regarding your feature on the Sainsbury Laboratory, being the architect who oversaw design/construction of the Salk Institute I would tend to disagree with the opening line. If memory serves me correctly, the use of modularity in laboratory design was what made the Salk different, and seeing how the same use of modularity in a research environment is shown in the second picture here, I would say that Salk has contributed more than the building aesthetic.

Adam Ames, via

Exemplary work

We were delighted that Hansom mentioned our presence in the Sunday Times Green Companies list, but curious about the reference to felling trees at a leisure centre project in St Albans. The trees in question had been felled weeks before we even took possession of the site, but it is true we have made an impact. In the few weeks we’ve been on site, we changed the design at no extra cost, earning praise from the client and appreciation from a local pressure group who wrote that we have shown “flexibility and pragmatism in the face of tough and changing circumstances - nothing wrong with British industry here!” We’re happy to continue showing the public just what an excellent industry construction is!

Andrew Geldard, Willmott Dixon

Back to basics

Regarding your story “Top four UK housebuilders nab half of new homes fund”, it will be interesting to see how successful this scheme is. Feedback from buyers is that a lot are uncomfortable with the complexity of government-backed schemes. They simply want to pay a deposit, borrow the remainder and know the house is theirs. I think the prospect of the builder still having a stake in their home will be off-putting to a lot of buyers.

Simon Edbury, via