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Prescott calls for urban renaissance . . .

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Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott this week promised an 'urban renaissance' in the uk following publication of Sir Richard Rogers' Urban Task Force prospectus.

Prescott was speaking at an Urban Villages Forum conference in Manchester at which he visited the Ancoats Urban Village and saw the uvf's other key regeneration projects. 'I urge everyone involved in building to take up the challenge and support us,' he said. 'The ideas need to be seen as mainstream and the norm, not a passing fad.'

Rogers said his report into encouraging urban regeneration through redeveloping brownfield land shows the future of towns, cities and neighbourhoods is 'at a crossroads' and needs design excellence, social well-being and environmental responsibility. The uk has lost its way, he said, by attempting 'Modernism on the cheap' - 'poor construction methods, poor building design and little or no regard for public realm'. It has also, Rogers claimed, capitulated to market economics and is therefore 'dotted with low-density suburban estates with small buildings jammed together, promoting car dependency'. The 'third way', he said, was to create new housing without 'ghettos of social exclusion', working with inhabitants, improving design and layout, maximising 'resource efficiency', and looking at local transport patterns.

The prospectus consultation period runs until 15 September, with a report of work in progress published at Christmas and a final report next summer. Groups on design, process and finance will be chaired by Llewelyn Davies' Martin Crookston, uvf chief executive David Lunts and Housing Corporation chief executive Anthony Mayer, respectively.

The free report is available on 0870 1226236.

. . . and launches Millennium Community colliery contest

A competition for a 'Greenwich Millennium Village mark two' in a mining blackspot has been launched by John Prescott.

Around 24ha of land on the former colliery site at Allerton Bywater near Leeds will be turned into a 'New Millennium Community'. Competition entrants must blend sustainability with mixed-use development to turn the minefield into a model development for the twenty-first century.

The brief for the former 4000-population village is marked by its openness. No housing or resident numbers are being laid down - 'it is for the designers to come back to us and say what is appropriate for the site', says English Partnerships. However, they must include public spaces, footpaths and cycleways as well as homes and flats. ep, which owns the site, has not said how much the development will cost but will work with consortia for 'innovative approaches' to finance. It is due to start on site next June.

A spokeswoman said that ep has phoned consortia which lost the Greenwich Village competition to talk through their ideas. It was encouraging them to come forward for future competitions, but each entrant would be assessed on its merits.

Prescott used last week's competition launch to call on ep to involve itself with a further 29 coalfield sites totalling 1400ha. His coalfields task force, set up last year, aims to transform run-down colliery towns into thriving communities. Its most recent report called for 12 former Coal Board sites to be taken over by ep and a further 17 to be regenerated in partnership with the private sector.

Deadline for stage-one submissions is 15 September 1998, with a preferred bidder chosen on 29 January 1999. Details from Marie Hodgson, ep, tel: 01942 296900.

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