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EP adopts 'wait and see' policy on new Greenwich 'villages' ...

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English Partnerships is to stage two major competitions for more new and innovative housing on the Greenwich peninsula - but only if it is satisfied that the controversial Greenwich Millennium Village project proves a commercial success.

ep development director David Shelton told the aj last week that the areas designated for the two new competitions lie to the north of the site which is currently being developed by Countryside Properties and Taylor Woodrow to Ralph Erskine's designs, and to the south of the Millennium Dome. The areas are scheduled in the Richard Rogers Partnership peninsular masterplan for a strip of high-density housing to the east and a low-density residential area to the west of a central park. Currently the former is being used for storage by the New Millennium Experience Company and the latter for a Dome car park.

But Shelton said the competitions will only take place once the Millennium Village is completed and if it is a success. A total of 3000 homes are proposed for the peninsula, with nearly half of them inside the 13ha Millennium Village. ep says the first homes will be occupied later this year and that building phases will continue until 2005.

An ep spokesman said around 1600 units will go across the further two sites and that they will be designed along the same principles as Erskine's development. Last week that was held up as an exemplary brownfield project by deputy prime minister John Prescott.

'If the Millennium Village turned out to be a commercial disaster we'd think again about the proportion of housing,' said the spokesman, 'but we're getting every indication of the opposite.' Around 400 people have indicated their interest in occupying the housing, the first blocks of which will be ready next year. Further phases of lower-level development will begin later this summer.

The other variable affecting ep in terms of the new competitions and the designation of land will be the as-yet-unsettled after-use of the Dome. Currently this is the subject of yet another competition, and five consortia are preparing to detail their bids for the end of this month. These will be whittled to a shortlist of three and a final decision will be made on a winner at the end of the summer.

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