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Urban Initiatives plans pioneering Expo in Newcastle...

Urban Initiatives is to submit plans for a new £380 million Expo - the first of its kind in the UK - which will transform the 'problematic' Scotswood area of Newcastle.

At the heart of the Scotswood Expo - plans for which are to be submitted on Monday - is the creation of 350 terraced homes, a quarter of which are to be the subject of a RIBA design competition.

The Expo - scheduled for summer 2010 - is the first stage of the overarching five-phase Scotswood masterplan which Newcastle City Council hopes will rejuvenate the down-at-heel West End region.

The masterplan covers a 60ha area, and it is hoped that by 2021 Scotswood will boast around 1,800 new homes, a primary school, community centre, shops and new landscaping and cycle routes.

While mainland Europe has embraced the concept of the Expo - exemplified by Stuttgart's 1927 Weissenhofsiedlung and more recently Sweden's Malmö Bo01 Expo of 2001 - the UK is yet to create a 'true' housing Expo.

Urban Initiatives associate Dan Hill said an Expo was necessary to 'remove the stigma of Scotswood' which he described as a 'problematic area where people do not aspire to live'.

He said: 'This is the first Expo of its kind in the UK and it is about mass housing delivery in the UK which, over the last 50 years, is something that we have not done well.'

Following the acquisition of around 70 properties - some through Compulsory Purchase Orders - on-site preparatory work will start later this year, with housing construction scheduled to begin in autumn 2009.

The Scotswood Expo will run for around three months. Hill said: 'We will start with a range of cultural programmes, including the creation of cabins where public art will be displayed. We will build up momentum and end with a major festival in 2010.'

by Max Thompson

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