HONORARY GRADUAND: PROFESSOR LES SPARKS OBE

Issue date: 15 November 2000


Professor Les Sparks is to be awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Design in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of urban architecture and design, and the better understanding of related sustainability and regeneration issues.

Professor Les Sparks received a diploma in architecture from Kingston College of Art and a diploma in Town and Country Planning from the Polytechnic of Central London. He is married and has two children.

Les Sparks started his long and distinguished career in 1968 in London, as Principal Planning Officer for the London Borough of Lambeth, followed by short periods in private consultancy and as Chief Planner for a housing development company.

Later, Les Sparks led the Severn Gorge Project for the Telford Development Corporation, where he was engaged on the conservation and restoration of the Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale area.

As Director of Environmental Services for Bath City Council during the 1980s, he set up a new department bringing together regulatory responsibilities for planning and conservation, together with building control, environmental health, housing and landscape architecture. During this period, he was a founding member of the English Historic Towns Forum.

From 1991 to 1999, Les Sparks worked with Birmingham City Council as Director of Planning and Architecture, where he was personally involved in award winning projects such as the Brindleyplace regeneration scheme, and the redevelopment of the Bull Ring.


He was also central to the creation of new public spaces such as Victoria Square and in the overall transformation of Birmingham City Centre.

Les Sparks has established an outstanding reputation for his contribution to architecture, urban design and planning in the United Kingdom. In 1997 he was admitted to the Order of the British Empire for services to Urban Regeneration. He has been a member of many important steering groups, and is a firm believer in a partnership approach between planners, architects, engineers and urban designers. He is currently a Patron of the Urban Design Group.

Les Sparks retired from Birmingham City Council in March 1999 but continues with many advisory roles. He is a Commissioner on CABE, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, and Chairs an Expert Panel for the Heritage Lottery Fund. He sits on an advisory group for the Ministry of Defence’s Historic Buildings, and is Urban Advisor to the environmental charity, The Civic Trust. He is on the Urban Panel of English Heritage. He retains strong links with the Faculty of the Built Environment and is a Visiting Professor.

The Honorary Degree will be conferred at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of the Built Environment on Thursday 16 November at 2.45pm.

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