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British 'failures' go down Europan

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Britain has withdrawn from this year's Europan competition as a result of its abysmal track record in seeing winning schemes through to development. The UK has failed to put forward sites for the biennial pan-European design competition, overseen by CABE and the RIBA, which offers a unique opportunity for younger practices to plan large and complex sites.

The collapse of the UK's participation follows a history of failed projects and the withdrawal of sponsorship from English Partnerships.

CABE's housing officer Alex Eley said the UK had a disappointing track record in seeing projects through to completion. It compared badly with the excellent results achieved by countries such as Spain and the Netherlands, Eley said.

In the autumn, the ODPM reviewed the management of the competition and decided that it was too late to ensure 'the effective delivery' of the 2003 event, Europan 7.However, CABE has now been charged with resolving the problems that have beset the country's participation and to ensure the 'excellent delivery' of the next event. 'We have been talking to all the relevant parties about getting it up and running for Europan 8, ' Eley said. Key to the UK's problems was that all the participating countries have different procurement methods, 'but we are hoping that for 2005 we can find a way round that, ' he added.

None of the winning schemes from Europan 6 in 2001 - in Hackney, Peckham and Manchester - have been developed. In Manchester, a scheme for client Urban Splash by Amin Taha and Richard Markland is 'highly unlikely to go ahead'. The developer, which has a reputation for supporting younger talent, is still in negotiations over the site with fellow Europan 6 participant Manchester City Council. And the scheme, which proposed to redevelop the Collyhurst Towers, failed to meet the requirements of Urban Splash, which was looking for a more renovation led solution.

In Hackney, Philippe Haag, Michel Kirsch and Georges Zigrand's proposal for the Woodberry Down Estate has 'no possibility' of being adopted, following the council's decision to demolish the entire estate.

And Peckham council is seeking development bids for its Flaxyard site on Peckham High Street, with no requirement that the winning scheme by Stephen Witherford, Christopher Watson and William Mann be taken forward.

Witherford, whose Europan 5 win has also come to nothing, blamed the private developerled procurement system for the problems, but added that he would not rule out taking part in the competition in the future, since it offered a unique challenge for young architects.

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