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Neighbourhood plans - future of masterplans

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Spatial masterplans are really large-scale urban redevelopment plans, usually market-led and intended to supplant outdated local land-use planning policies as supplementary planning guidance.

Your comment (AJ 7.12.00) refers to architects' general lack of masterplanning expertise.

This all depends on your point of reference. Spatially, architects are pretty good at it. But as Lord Rogers himself acknowledges: 'Market forces have polarised neighbourhoods as they polarise incomes, and we have lost our faith in the inner city.'

Large-scale urban redevelopment plans may be a component part of the process of correcting that, but architects cannot solve complex social and economic problems with spatial plans - perhaps that explains the tension between the Richard Rogers Partnership and Newcastle City Council.

Personally, I prefer neighbourhood plans. These may, in part, be produced by an architect, but are led by neighbourhood interests, and are social, environmental and economic plans, with a 'public realm' spatial element.

That is the point - who wins now that housebuilders are forced by scarcity of politically acceptable greenfield sites to redevelop second-hand inner urban land. Market and neighbourhood interests are different and they must come together for successful cities.

Paul Latham, director, The Regeneration Practice, London E1

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