CABE has criticised architect Howarth Litchfield Partnership’s design for a Sunderland regeneration scheme, claiming the proposals “lack character”.

The attack came from CABE’s design review panel, which assessed the architect’s masterplan for the Riverside Park development in Sunderland. The regeneration project includes 1500 homes, business accommodation, a school and a community centre.

In its report, the CABE review panel said: “The purpose of a masterplan is to provide detailed guidance for the development of a site over a period of years, and yet this scheme lacks compelling ideas to establish key principles that could be carried through to future phases of development.”

CABE specifically criticised the layout of the scheme, saying that although it welcomed the move away from a standard grid layout and towards setting buildings in landscape, it did not think the approach had been successfully resolved across the whole site.

The report said: “In its current form, we think the scheme lacks character and a sense of place.

We think it would feel more like a business park than a residential community.”

CABE was also unconvinced by the location of the community centre, which is split into two halves on either side of a bridge. It added: “The illustrative masterplan does not seem to be derived from an understanding of how communities work.”

CABE recommended that the architect amend its proposals in light of the design review panel’s comments. The report concluded: “We suggest that the architects reconsider the strategy underlying this masterplan, thinking first about how places and communities work.

“While we think that many of the intentions for regenerating this prime city centre site are laudable, we are not convinced they have been successfully translated in the illustrative scheme present.”