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The Urban Design Alliance has launched an initiative to make it easier for local people to have more say over the future of their environments.The Placecheck project was launched last week at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London. Funded by English Partnerships and detr, the project will enable easy assessment of the qualities and future requirements of local areas. Developed by consultants Civix and Urban Exchange, the project aims at asking the right people the right questions in a structured way, working out who should be involved in local projects, and how they can work together. It is hoped that resulting reports will prepare the ground for plans and strategies drawn up by local and regional authorities, regeneration partnerships and developers.

Munkenbeck + Marshall is waiting for the curtain to fall on the Almeida Theatre's programme of Shakespeare in a derelict studio building in Shoreditch before starting construction work on this £20 million canalside apartment and office development. Actors have taken over the Gainsborough Studios until August in a temporary theatre designed by Haworth Tompkins Architects. Once the run is over though, work can begin on converting the famous studios - where Alfred Hitchcock filmed some early movies - into a 150 apartment complex. The Clerkenwell-based practice M&M was appointed by property developer Lincoln Holdings and has already won planning permission. The designs will retain some tv and film studio facilities and will include 80 live/work units. The development also features three new buildings around a courtyard.

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