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Sustainable homes TV show killed off

A bid to prove on national television that modern, sustainable construction methods are a realistic proposition has collapsed,

the AJ can reveal.

Independent producer Talkback Thames' efforts to spearhead a television series about innovative residential development have been put

on hold after a housing developer got cold feet.

Talkback had worked with CABE, the RIBA Competitions Office and Channel 4's Grand Designsfrontman Kevin McCloud

to convince developer Midas to become their partner in the high-profile show.

The show aimed to prove that Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's dream of a house built for an affordable sum could become reality. But the developer brought in to fund the project has now ditched it, an insider revealed.

The source said that this was because Midas could not see how money could be made out of any proposal.

According to the insider, Midas expected the show's housing designs to resemble those of a volume housebuilder 'like Barratt', rather than a modern alternative.

The source said: 'I think [Midas] had an unrealistic understanding of what a new housing prototype should be.'

The production company had explained to the developer that it planned to use designs that drew on Prescott's much-vaunted £60,000 house competition.

Plans were first mooted for the construction of a 'Grand Designs Village' last August. This would have seen British architects challenged to design the homes of the future.

The AJ understands that the programme makers had planned to promote homes that were quick to construct, attractive and original, as a direct response to the current crisis in the housing market and a perceived need for imaginative designs.

They apparently planned to construct six such housing designs and build multiples of them on one site - owned by Midas - in order to create a village of 16 units in St Austell, Cornwall.

The competition and the building of the 'Grand Designs Village', before it was shelved, were set to be shown at length in a prime-time Channel 4 slot and also on the network's new digital channel More4.

by Rob Sharp

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