Architect launches campaign to revise planning rules by slamming the retention of old facades on new buildings.
Lord Rogers intends to ask ministers to discourage the retention of original facades when non-listed buildings in conservation areas are demolished to make way for new ones.

Rogers, who now takes the government whip in the House of Lords, said the practice meant that "we always fall back on mothballing second-rate buildings".

He made the comment at an exhibition in London last week to launch a campaign to revise government guidelines covering planning and the historic environment (PPG15), partly because it is believed that they encourage such bad practice.

The proposal to curb facade retention is one of the key recommendations in Revise PPG15, which Rogers played a large part in putting together.

The report says: "The practice frequently leads to vast open office spaces being visible behind modest facades that would normally have expressed the presence of small cellular rooms."

The authors of the report believes that such sites should be redeveloped with a high-quality new building.

We should not be falling back on always mothballing second-rate buildings

Lord Rogers

The report also attacks planning authorities that allow facades to be knocked down and rebuilt in the same style but with the greater storey and window heights. This practice, known as stretching, is condemned as "dishonest".

The report, a line-by-line critique of PPG15: Planning and the Historic Environment, was compiled and published by the Richard Coleman Consultancy, whose principal, Richard Coleman, was formerly deputy secretary of the Royal Fine Art Commission.

It was written under the guidance of Rogers and architect Sir Richard MacCormac, and was begun after the subject was raised at meeting with Richard Caborn (then planning minister) in 1998.

The report also proposes that local authority planning departments should improve their architectural skills, and that CABE should expand its regional facilities for reviewing planning applications.

  • English Heritage and CABE this week jointly publish Building in Context: New Developments in Historic Areas. Like Revise PPG15, the report wants to promote "intelligent, imaginative high-quality contemporary architecture [that] can enrich historic environments".