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Pathfinder recruits Ian Simpson

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Ian Simpson, best known for his massive glass skyscrapers, has been brought into to help oversee a contentious Pathfinder project in Greater Manchester.

The Oldham Rochdale Housing Market Renewal (HMR) Pathfinder, which aims to deliver around 2,500 new homes over the next three years, has appointed Simpson to join its influential board.

It is a return to his roots for Simpson, who was born in a terrace house in Heywood, Rochdale.

The brainchild of former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, the Oldham Rochdale HMR Pathfinder is one of the 12 controversial housing projects around the North and Midlands which have attracted a wave of damning headlines over the last few years.

The move to appoint Simpson signals a clear intention from the Pathfinder chiefs to show 'good design' is at the heart of the programme - the lack of which has been one of the criticisms levelled at the schemes.

Speaking about his new role Simpson, who is also a member of the CABE design review panel, said: 'I'm passionate about improving the quality of what's on offer and want to share advice on good design and architecture.

'I'm involved in regenerating cities and urban areas so the issue of housing renewal, particularly in Northern towns near where I grew up, is of great interest.

He added: 'The legacy I see the Pathfinder leaving behind raises the bar in terms of quality and will create real homes and real communities, places where people will want to live and move back to.'

by Richard Waite

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