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Abstract:

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CentrePiece Article
Trophy architects and the ‘dark matter' of London’s planning system
Paul Cheshire and Gerard Dericks
October 2014
Paper No' CEPCP432:
Full Paper (pdf)

CentrePiece 19 (2) Autumn 2014


JEL Classification: H3; J6; Q15; R52


Tags: land use regulation; regulatory costs; rent-seeking; office markets

A quarter of London’s skyscrapers are designed by architects who have already won a lifetime achievement award and whose work thus has the imprimatur of ‘iconic design’; this compares with just 3% in Chicago. According to research by Paul Cheshire and Gerard Dericks, employing such ‘trophy architects’ can get a London developer a valuable extra 19 floors on a representative site. Their study shows how in the highly uncertain world created by the UK planning system’s decision-making method, it is worth spending a fortune to ‘game’ the system and get more space when you are successful. They explain the costs to society of these incentives to ‘game’ the system.

This article summarises ‘‘Iconic Design’ as Deadweight Loss: Rent Acquisition by Design in the Constrained London Office Market’ by Paul Cheshire and Gerard Dericks, Spatial Economics Research Centre (SERC) Discussion Paper No. 154, January 2014