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Ken offers capital as 'trial city' for Urban Task Force

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London mayor Ken Livingstone last week rebuked the government for 'pigeon-holing' Lord Rogers' ideas for urban renewal and revealed that the brief for his new architectural adviser is no less than 'to rebuild London'.

In an exclusive interview with the AJ, Livingstone made clear that Lord Rogers' work with the Urban Task Force would be applied in the capital even if it is not fully embraced at a national level, as seems likely.

'I have asked him to tell me how to rebuild London so it's a better place to live in, 'Livingstone said.'We've had the Urban Task Force and it has been pigeon-holed by the government. Now I've said to him, here's a city, do it here, show it can work and others will copy it.'He added that he wants Lord Rogers to 'infest our planning structure with enthusiasm, energy and original thinking'.

'The vast majority of what passes for our city is not well designed, is unattractive and is anachronistic. This is why people don't want to stay in our city, ' he said.

The high expectations over Lord Rogers' role were raised by Livingstone's deputy and planning chief Nicky Gavron, who said that Rogers will be instrumental in drawing up the Greater London Authority's spatial development strategy. But GLA officials warned that Lord Rogers' impact will not be immediate since the mayor is prioritising transport policy rather than urban design in the first months of his term.

Livingstone also revealed that he is planning to pedestrianise a string of squares across the capital in an extension of Foster and Partners' World Squares for All pedestrianisation plans. He has already given the goahead despite resistance from Westminster City Council.

'The architects are proceeding apace. The money's there, I'm going to do it and it will be the first of the great pedestrianisation schemes. Parliament Square will be next and in the years to come there will be many others around London, ' he said. 'I will encourage other councils to look at their squares and see what can be done to close them to traffic.'

On tall buildings, Livingstone said that he would reject any proposals which were 'boring' and reiterated his view that tall buildings should only be allowed if they are 'beautiful and in the right place'. He identified the north eastern corner of the City of London as an area ripe for development as well as sites above major rail termini in the capital.

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