Design guru's role hangs in balance

EDINBURGH'S outspoken design "tsar" has been asked to report on what he thinks has been achieved, before councillors decide on the future of his prominent position.

Sir Terry Farrell was appointed city design champion by the previous Labour administration in 2004, and his four-year tenure comes to an end in April.

Senior councillors are unsure whether to appoint a replacement, amid criticism from some quarters that little has been achieved.

Sir Terry is also thought to have upset city chiefs in recent months by criticising both Edinburgh's massive revamp of the waterfront shoreline and the design of the 498 million tram scheme.

The unpaid honorary role was set up in 2004 to find a figurehead for the city's attempts to improve architecture, as Edinburgh's rapid economic growth led to many new building projects.

City leader Jenny Dawe said today: "I don't think this was ever intended to be an ongoing appointment – it was something that former (Labour] planning convener Trevor Davies was key in promoting.

"But I've had several meetings with Terry Farrell, and there is a legacy because the council takes design much more seriously now. I know he is quite keen to write this report, and he may recommend that there should be another appointment."

Labour group leader Ewan Aitken said today: "Terry Farrell has added significantly to our understanding of what it is to be a 21st century city, with world-renowned historical architecture.

"We need eyes like his to understand what we need to do, and it would be short-termism to cut the position."

Sir Terry said his report was still being finalised and he declined to comment further.