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Thames Gateway plans must go French, says FBC event

A major conference, planned for next year, will urge the government to look to France for inspiration before pushing ahead with the development of London's Thames Gateway.

The Franco-British Council event will compare the Thames Gateway - the planned site for a massive housing boom in the next 20 years - with the Pas de Calais. The successfully regenerated area in the north of France takes in cities such as Lille and Dunkirk.

The event, to include policymakers and architects from both sides of the Channel, will tie in with celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale.

Rory Coonan, former head of the Arts Council's architecture unit and member of the Franco-British Council, is behind the event.

'As always we are ignoring lessons that could be learnt, ' Coonan said. 'We need to learn those lessons before we start putting our toe in the water at Thames Gateway. We need to look at what the French have achieved.'

The experience of French regional government in solving the problems of infrastructure, design quality, and the integration of schools and hospitals within the new communities could prove invaluable to policy makers in the UK, he said.

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