Architect and Labour peer uses Alan Cherry memorial lecture to laud changes to the NPPF

Leading architect and Labour peer Richard Rogers has voiced support for the government’s revised planning reforms after fiercely opposing the initial draft.

Speaking at today’s annual Alan Cherry memorial lecture, organised by Building in partnership with Countryside Properties, Rogers said he was unsure whether the new version of the national planning policy framework (NPPF) would promote good design, but said the overall framework was “very good”.

Rogers, who chaired the last government’s Urban Task Force and was a leading advisor of former deputy prime minister John Prescott, had previously predicted that the NPPF might result in urban sprawl and lead to the UK “looking like Los Angeles”.

“It has become much, much better,” he said today. “When it first came out, I was horrified.”

The architect said that the coalition “had listened” to its critics and welcomed changes to the NPPF including a greater focus on retrofitting and promoting densification of urban areas around transport links.

But he said the NPPF still contained “big holes” which he said left areas open to interpretation by the public and local leadership.

Rogers’ comments were part of a wide-ranging panel debate, also including Labour MP Nick Raynsford, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio architect Keith Bradley, planner David Lock and GLA housing and regeneration director David Lunts.

The debate later heard from communities secretary Eric Pickles, who praised the vision of the late Alan Cherry, the founder of Countryside Properties.

On the 50-page NPPF, he said: “We believe that by removing the clutter, good design will come to the fore. I’m more optimistic about the abilities of local communities to agree on good design and on growth.”

The lecture took place at the RICS headquarters in Westminster.