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Rowntree shortlists four in £25m housing blueprint

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Four firms have been shortlisted for a £25 million masterplan for 350 homes, in a project which the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which is running the competition, is hoping will become a standard-bearer for housing in the new century.

Aire Design, which won the Allerton Bywater millennium village competition, Edaw, prp Architects and John Thompson & Partners will draw up outline masterplans for the proposed 'model town extension' at Osbaldwick, to the east of York.

The Foundation said that the development is intended to set the standard for housing in the next century, just as its turn-of-the-century Garden City village of New Earswick in York did. However, the 22ha of land on the edge of York is on a greenfield, rather than brownfield, site which has pylons staggered through it. A third of the housing will be social homes and the architects have to propose the community facilities.

The winner will work with locals to blend their ideas into the new community which is expected to start in 2000 for completion by 2002.

Nearly 70 firms entered the competition and each of the four shortlisted was given £10,000 to work up its ideas. They will be submitted in the new year, with a winner chosen in February. A community planning day is being held on 9 October so local people can share their views with the four finalists.

English Heritage investigates British Museum stone

English Heritage is probing part of the £98 million Great Court Project of the British Museum after French limestone was used instead of the preferred Portland Stone.

Work on one of the porticoes involved the use of 60 massive blocks of the French stone because the Portland type could not be acquired in the timescale. It fully met the contract specifications but eh needed reassurance, said the museum. Some 900 tonnes of stone worth £3.5 million have been used for the portico and eh is talking to the museum, the restorer Easton Masonry, and project architect Foster and Partners. The investigation should be over in a week, said eh.

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