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EP and Rogers set models for 21st-century towns and cities

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English Partnerships has appointed Lord Rogers to champion new government thinking on quality design and push the boundaries of innovation. He will chair a judging panel for six more 'millennium communities' competitions inside the next two years which will be 'themed' and taken as case studies. The moves are a preamble to what could emerge from the government as an 'Urban White Paper', or new planning guidance, offering a fundamental rethink on densities and form.

ep chief executive Antony Dunnett told the aj last week that he wanted a 'step change' in construction to suit the orders of deputy prime minister John Prescott. Following the success of the Greenwich Millennium Village competition, won by Ralph Erskine and Hunt Thompson, he wants each of the communities to become exemplars of 'bold', radical new approaches to architecture, construction techniques, it and housing tenure. He said the Allerton Bywater community competition - which Prescott said should also be an example of the Egan report in action - could become a blueprint for the 56 former British Coalfield sites now owned by ep. The next site - to be announced before the end of the year - is likely to be either one which could adequately test new thinking on 'a New Town approach' on brownfield land, or be a model for solving the problem of a town 'pepperpotted' with developable sites, needing integration. Another could be a treatment of a coastal town, he said.

The idea is to collate information and lessons learned from the series of competitions alongside work done by Lord Rogers' Urban Task Force, which is to report before next summer. Rogers was last week appointed by ep to chair a new permanent panel to judge the communities competitions, and, according to fellow panel member Richard Burdett from the London School of Economics, the intention is that the new information could eventually influence an Urban White Paper. Along with Rogers, Dunnett and Burdett, the panel comprises: David Mackay from mbm Arquitectes sa, a finalist in the Greenwich competition; Mark Whitby from Whitby Bird and Partners; developer Stuart Lipton; Housing Corporation chief executive Anthony Mayer; Sukvinder Stubbs from the Runnymede Trust and David Shelton, ep's project director. The core members will be supplemented by local authority and 'community' figures on each competition and a technical team will guide it on environmental efficiency, community development and transport issues.

'We're saying real, effective, sustainable communities hinge upon good design being integrated at development stage,' said Dunnett. 'Too often design is bolted on at the end - we want it to be the cousin, as opposed to the orphan . . . We want to use these examples to challenge government to change the fundamental rules of the game.'

ep also wants international consortia to come forward for the Allerton Bywater competition so it can learn from different systems abroad, such as prefabrication methods. It has also written to 250 architects, 200 of them from the uk, asking them to become involved. Burdett said he wanted to see more architects operating as 'mediators', working with developers who might not be historically associated with housing.

ep and the Housing Corporation have commissioned Llewelyn-Davies, Alan Baxter and Max Fordham and Associates to draw up an 'Urban Design Compendium'. The good-practice document, to be published in November, will spell out design principles in more detail than ep's Time for Design 2, using over 100 case studies, including the Greenwich Village competition.

David Morley Architects and Bryant Priest Newman Architects have won planning permission for this indoor cricket centre at Edgbaston, Birmingham. The eight-lane cricket school for Warwickshire ccc is naturally lit and ventilated and clad in white aluminium with an upwardly canted butterfly roof and terracotta planes at the front and rear of the building. It goes on site next January.

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