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


  • Paul Cheshire
  • Gerard Dericks


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.

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  • Paul Cheshire & Gerard Dericks, 2014. "Trophy architects and the ‘dark matter' of London’s planning system," CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance 432, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepcnp:432

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    Land use regulation; regulatory costs; rent-seeking; office markets;

    JEL classification:

    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • Q15 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Land Ownership and Tenure; Land Reform; Land Use; Irrigation; Agriculture and Environment
    • R52 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Land Use and Other Regulations

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