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DETR rejects landscape watchdog recommendation

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Top landscape designers have condemned the government for snubbing their demand for a national watchdog to vet green spaces as a core to the urban white paper.

The Landscape Institute pinned its hopes on an urban-parks and green- spaces agency to halt the decline of parks and to look at regeneration issues. But the detr turned down the recommendation made by the House of Commons environment subcommittee on towns and parks. The institute hoped it would be part of the white paper, which is due this summer.

Landscape Institute president Tim Gale, said: 'The government re-enacts the old conjuring trick of applauding the aims of high-quality open spaces while side-stepping the main means.'

The agency would set best-practice standards, co-ordinate policy, oversee maintenance and persuade councils that not all parks have to be the same - some need sports, gardens and countryside.

Gale feared the white paper would fudge the issue of urban regeneration. 'We share the concern that the task force report was widely welcomed but the increasing gap between its publication and any action from the government can only mean it is going to soft-pedal the recommendations.'

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