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Lord Rogers demands urgent action on urban regeneration

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Lord Rogers has unveiled a 10-point action plan designed to 'galvanise' the massive reforms required to regenerate England's inner cities.

In the first session of the reconvened Urban Task Force, the Labour peer called on the government to 'act now' if it is to solve social exclusion and trigger the urgently needed urban regeneration.

In a speech at the session, which took place at a conference sponsored by The Observer newspaper on Tuesday, Rogers claimed the government's commitment to regeneration has slowed since 'Towards an Urban Renaissance' - the findings of the first task force.

The new task force, of which Rogers is chair, will be assessing government progress since the report. Rogers said: 'We require a clear commitment to long-term action by the government.

We need a step change in the speed of delivery.We need to establish what can be achieved in the next two years, in the next five years and in the next 20 years.'

Rogers' 10 priorities for action include: a comprehensive action plan based on the 2000 Urban White Paper; increased power to local authorities;

an increased institutional framework at regional level; greater use of public money to improve public spaces; a national advice and learning programme; fiscal incentives to encourage investment; and the prioritising of housing as the most urgent area for change.

'It is time the government built on the Urban White Paper and made urban renaissance a reality, ' Rogers said. 'A housing-led urban renaissance focusing on brownfield sites and transport hubs is still our greatest challenge and our greatest opportunity. We need action, carefully tailored to local needs and local circumstances on regional and local levels.'

And he added: 'We do not have time to delay, or the leisure to concentrate on individual problems like the state of our rail system or our health service, to the exclusion of more complex issues of integrated urban renaissance.'

The Observer conference convened in London to discuss the way ahead for the government's urban regeneration policy. Also speaking were CABE's chief executive Jon Rouse, the economic secretary to the Treasury John Healey, the parliamentary under secretary of state for housing, planning and regeneration Tony McNulty, and the head of housing at the London School of Economics Professor Anne Power.

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