Board Blogs: I’d like the power to undo bad development – Martin Crookston

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In a series of blogs, members of the A&DS Board explain what inspires them, their policy priorities and what they wish their secret built environment super power would be. Here Martin Crookston, a planner, economist and A&DS Board member, gives his reflections of being a part of Architecture and Design Scotland.

What inspires you day to day about being a board member of A&DS? Is there anything that frustrates you?

Martin Crookston: The inspiration comes from being part of a team, made up of many layers: A&DS staff, us on the Board, [Scottish Government] colleagues at Victoria Quay, and the Ministers: all with a commitment to a better-functioning, better-looking Scotland.

The frustrations are from the slow day-to-day grind of making that better Scotland actually happen – people who don’t get it, clunky institutions that get in the way of progress, and so on.

What things/activities has being a board member of A&DS enabled you to get involved with?

Two levels, really: A&DS, as a small agency with a big remit, calls on its Board members not just to give the strategic oversight that Boards must always do: we also get involved in outreach to colleagues and members of the public, and from time to time we use our own skills to help A&DS staff deliver the service (in my case, strategic planning support in the big city-regions). That makes it a bit different from other Boards I’ve been on or know about.

From your perspective, what are the best projects or activities A&DS has done? Why?

I think the work A&DS does on health and education, which is targeted on specific design-led improvements for these two sectors of public investment, are fantastically impressive. I’d like to think we could widen that sort of engagement to other sectors too.

What future work is A&DS involved in that particularly interests you and why is it important?

The housing agenda is the crucial one: more, and better quality, in the housing sector  – well-located, helping to shape and make places that we can all be proud of: that’s the core agenda.

If you could make built environment policy – what one issue would you tackle first?

A strong return to the urban regeneration agenda. Outer area development is easy, and often lazy. The key is to mend out cities and towns, and stitch them back together.

What built environment super power would you like to have?

The power to undo bad development, and make them do it again, properly.

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