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CentrePiece article

Trophy architects and the ‘dark matter' of London’s planning system


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.


Paul Cheshire and Gerard Dericks

3 October 2014     Paper Number CEPCP432

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This CentrePiece article is published under the centre's Urban programme.