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Urban Design Group launches manifesto

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The Urban Design Group made a late entry into the election frenzy last week by launching its own manifesto.

Supported by the likes of Terry Farrell, Tom Bloxham of Urban Splash and CABE commissioner Les Sparks, the document urges the new government, elected today (5 May), to implement a new 12-point programme to prioritise good design.

One of the manifesto's key demands is for the deputy prime minister to set up a new bursary to help 'professionals study for postgraduate qualifications in urban design' - a scheme similar to that currently on offer to planners.

The group, founded in 1978, is also calling on every planning authority to appoint a local design champion and at least one urban designer by 2007.

Other points include uniting 'decision-making on planning and transportation throughout all levels of government from cabinet down' and requiring authorities to produce 'an urban vision plan' as part of their development framework.

Robert Cowan, the group's director, believes the manifesto's strength comes from its focus on achievable goals. He said: 'We're not just thinking generally about design, but about specific things.

These points are very doable and quite precise.' Cowan knows it is unlikely the manifesto will get talked about before the election, but he feels whoever is in power will be very interested in many of the issues raised. He said: 'We don't expect ministers to stew over it now. But we'd hope that following the election it will get a response.'

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