Page last updated at 17:19 GMT, Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Architect stands by slums remark

Buildings in Leeds
Mr Hutchinson stands by his criticism of the apartment boom

A leading architect who predicted the building boom in Leeds was creating the "slums of the future" has returned to the city to say "I was right".

With more than one in 10 city centre apartments standing empty architect Maxwell Hutchinson said prices were tumbling and many were not lived in.

He told the BBC's Inside Out programme: "My views ruffled feathers, but I still know I was right".

Leeds City Council said the architect had "grossly overstated" the situation.

Mr Hutchinson said he stands by his view of two years ago that the property boom was unsustainable and cites the unoccupied properties as testament to his argument.

'Ruffled feathers'

He said: "Two years ago I came to a city in a property boom, with more new building than at any time since the Victorians.

"Leeds used to be called the Knightsbridge of the North - and maybe it still is but two years ago I speculated that within walking distance of City Square, Leeds was building the slums of the future.

"My views ruffled a few feathers, but I still know I was right."

But leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Andrew Carter, disagreed and said Mr Hutchinson's comments were 'a gross overstatement."

Maxwell Hutchinson
Maxwell Hutchinson said he had ruffled feathers - but claimed he was right

Councillor Carter said: "We have not built any slums and neither have the private developers."

During his return to the city, Mr Hutchinson argued that places where people live needed to be "communities with facilities such as places of worship, community centres and schools".

He singled out the newly-finished Clarence Dock - describing the high street as an 'inhospitable urban desert'.

He also visited the Aspect 14 development where, he claimed, prices had dropped 'spectacularly' with some of the biggest falls in the country.

He said: "If recovery ever comes, we can't repeat our mistakes, we've got to build neighbourhoods with the same community facilities which existed in the past."

But Mr Hutchinson's views were challenged by Simon Kidd, the commercial lettings director at Clarence Dock.

He said "Clarence Dock is still a work in progress. With the demand from workers comes the need for shops that sell sandwiches, possibly a pharmacy, a gym, all those things that become an integral part of the community - but they're not the first uses to appear on site.

"Those come once you've created the community.

"Come back in two months time, then all the trees will be in leaf and the place will have a very different feel."

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