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Lipton hits out at 'future slums'

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CABE's former chairman Stuart Lipton has echoed Richard Rogers' comments last week (AJ 3.2.05) and attacked the government's regeneration policies.

The founder of property giant Stanhope claimed the Labour government was 'building the slums of tomorrow' by ignoring its own guidance on good design.

Speaking at the end of the Delivering Sustainable Communities Summit in Manchester, Lipton hit out at chancellor Gordon Brown who had earlier praised the Treasury's commitment to 'issues like public spaces' and the design quality of public procurement.

'Despite what Mr Brown said, the government is not practising best value, ' raged Lipton. 'Best value does not mean lowest costs. But just talk to any school or hospital - it's still lowest cost. Is it any surprise we have problems with kids and crime?' Lipton's outburst follows hot on the heels of similar criticism from Rogers, who last week slammed deputy prime minister John Prescott's plans for the Thames Gateway.

Headlining a masterclass on 'How developers make decisions', the Stanhope chief also fired a salvo at shortsighted developers and the quality of some commercial architects.

'Most developers are frightened of using good designers, ' he said.

'They can't control them and they can't control what it'll look like.

Design quality and fear are brothers.

'People are frightened to go to a Foster or Rogers. But they can create things that are classically designed, long lasting, uplifting, functional and low maintenance.

'I learned 20 years ago that the architects who were then known for building civic buildings, they were the ones who were the most creative. Commercial architects are very uncommercial in that they don't know how to use materials and the building's lifespan is not long lasting.

'If you go to a project meeting and it lasts 45 minutes, you know everyone has done their homework, ' Lipton added. 'With commercial architects, you spend two hours because it is the first time they have looked at it.'

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