Mark Lintell

Early advocate of sustainability


Mark Lintell, environmental planner: born Shrewley, Warwickshire 8 February 1943; principal, Land Use Consultants 1977-83, director 1983-90, chairman 1990-2005; married 1967 Rohaise Brinkworth (one son; marriage dissolved 1977), 1986 Deborah Wolton (one son); died Orpington, Kent 17 January 2006.

From 1990, Mark Lintell was chairman of Land Use Consultants, the pioneering, multi-disciplinary environmental practice established by Max Nicholson, under whose direction Lintell had gained a reputation as an environmental thinker, planner and designer. He held this post with great distinction until taken ill with a brain tumour last summer.

Nicholson had set up LUC in 1966 to advise on land use and persuade industry to take more seriously its responsibility for the natural environment. Lintell joined seven years later. His early work included reclamation strategies and implementation of projects in the Potteries and the West Midlands, and urban design at Duffryn, Newport. He helped to prepare island plans for Jersey and Guernsey and fought numerous battles to prevent or modify damaging road schemes - Okehampton Bypass, Lyndhurst Bypass, the M3/Winchester Bypass and the alignment of the M25 in the Darent Valley, Kent.

In the late 1970s he was involved in studies undertaken for the North West Water Authority, attempting to identify alternative water resource developments to meet the needs of North-West England. Lintell's environmentally led approach combined conservation and enhancement of the environment in a socially acceptable way - now called "sustainability". The study was important because it was the first of its type to employ environmental impact assessment (EIA) techniques developed in North America. EIA is now enshrined in European and UK planning law.

The Lower Colne Flood Alleviation Study, undertaken for Thames Water Authority in the early 1980s, with Lintell leading the LUC team, represented the first major flood alleviation scheme in England that did not rely on heavy engineering, seeking instead to find environmentally sensitive solutions. It culminated in the restoration of hydrological and ecological integrity to a complex system of streams and lakes from Rickmansworth to Staines. Some 60 individual schemes have since been implemented, and the approach is now accepted as the norm in the UK.

Mark Lintell was born at Shrewley, Warwickshire, in 1943. From Bradfield College he went up to Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he took a double First in Architecture. Between 1969 and 1973 he completed Fellowships in Urban Design at the University of California, Berkeley and became known for his work with the Berkeley Professor of Urban Design, Don Appleyard - resulting in the 1976 government report Liveable Urban Streets and the 1981 book Livable Streets. These advocated making streets available to residents, pedestrians and cyclists as well as motorists, and Livable Streets became the key reference work addressing problems of urban traffic. It was the forerunner of the "home zones" now being implemented in the UK.

Lintell returned to England in the spring of 1973 to join LUC. The list of projects with which he was involved at LUC is extensive and remarkable, from master-planning for the now constructed Central Park Pudong (Shanghai) to the defence of communities at Camphill, Aberdeen.

Mark Lintell's mission was to ensure that development should be of the highest standard and he set benchmarks of sustainability for others to follow. He would certainly not wish to be remembered as anti-development, although he had little time for poorly thought-through projects.

The painstaking restoration of the Quadrangle, a Victorian model farm on the edge of Shoreham village in Kent, had absorbed him for more than 30 years; it was to have been his haven and occupation in retirement. He was a stickler for good design in all things, from the layout of a major city park to the label on a jar of Quadrangle honey, and was greatly attached to his bicycle - which had a bell the size of a hamburger.

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