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Holly Street estate example of what £800m can achieve

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The government has flagged up a Levitt Bernstein Associates' housing design as an example of good practice for the launch of its report pledging £800 million for the demolition of and improvements to poor estates.

Tony Blair and John Prescott unveiled plans this week to obliterate estates that 'shame our nation'. They signalled an end to pouring money into high- rise developments that no one wants to live in.

The 'New Deal for Communities Fund' will be spread over three years, but initially 17 pilot areas will be turned into showpiece communities. The detr estimates that 1370 estates are 'very poor neighbourhoods'. Area bids must be in by 14 December, identifying what's wrong, what needs to be done and who will be in charge.

Eighteen government teams will be formed, each headed by a 'champion' minister', to wage war on bad housing, crime and poor access to shops. The teams will involve community and business groups. Housing minister Hilary Armstrong will oversee the process and be in charge of bad housing and housing management. Culture minister Tony Banks will target arts and sport.

At the launch Blair and Prescott were shown around Levitt Bernstein Associates' Holly Street Estate in Hackney. The £97 million project has replaced five- storey 'snake blocks' and 19-storey towers with low-rise homes and flats around traditional street patterns. Blair hailed the development as a symbol of what could be done.

'Bringing Britain together: a national strategy for neighbourhood renewal', Stationery Office, £9.50, tel: 0171 873 0011. 'New Deal for Communities bidding guidance', detr, tel: 0171 890 3779

David Marks Julia Barfield Architects' scheme for a Watersports centre in Hackney, East London, has won a sports lottery grant of £3.1 million. The centre, scheduled to open in late 2000, will be built at the Stoke Newington West Reservoir. The architect will open up the central tower of the Thames Water filtration building to reveal original tanks.

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