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Minister tells planners to get creative for more mixed use

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Planning minister Richard Caborn has called on planners to become 'more creative and flexible' in order to encourage more mixed-use developments in uk towns and cities.

Caborn was speaking last week at an event to celebrate the publication of a 'how-to' document called Making Places, written by edaw's Lee Shostak for the Urban Villages Forum and English Partnerships.

'We want to start an urban renaissance,' said Caborn, 'and part of that is dealing with the causes and not so much with the symptoms. I've embarked on a comprehensive review of the planning system. The challenge is to get creative thinking in planning, and we want to factor in more imaginative design.'

Caborn said that he admired such thinking in developers such as Urban Splash's Tom Bloxham - 'a dynamic guy' who had brought his creative ideas to regenerating parts of the country. In the run-up to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott publication of the 'Integrated' Transport White Paper, the government's attitude was to improve environments by aiming for car-free zones with more effective public transport, but also by aiming at 'people and not bricks and mortar'.

English Partnerships chief executive Antony Dunnett said there has been 'a real catalytic effect from 'development experts, money, and statutory powers' such as ep 'knitting together' to encourage more mixed-use schemes since Prince Charles launched the 'Making Places' initiative 18 months ago. 'We can't afford talking shops,' he said; 'we need acting shops'. ep put up £50 million towards this aim and was now 'well into our second £50 million', and carrying forward plans for more landmark schemes along the lines of Hunt Thompson and Ralph Erskine's Millennium Village. Dunnett added that ep is to invest in enabling the building of 10-15,000 new houses next year, twice as many as last year.

And David Lunts, chief executive of the uvf, said that the document, designed to take practitioners through the basic steps in creating 'walkable' mixed-use environments was aimed at the long term, rather than 'an obsession with short-term margins'. Schemes such as Brindleyplace, Hulme in Manchester, and Crown Street in the Gorbals, Glasgow, epitomised the 'careful urban renewal' he hoped to see replicated. Another potential site was in Radstock, Somerset, where John Thompson has come forward with a scheme after a planning weekend, or a David Lock Associates design for St Austell. The uvf is to present a further exhaustive look at the 26 schemes it is working on in July, including plans for the Jewellery Quarter Urban Village in Birmingham. If all the schemes are realised, added Lunts, the uvf will have had responsibility for new homes for more than 70,000 people.

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