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Rogers over-committed to design, think tank warns

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One of Labour's most influential think tanks has produced a document that criticises the conclusions of Richard Rogers' Urban Task Force.

The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) article, titled Jobs, Not Design, Are the Basis of City Growth, takes a position of fundamental disagreement with Rogers' latest report, which was published in November.

The document, written for the IPPR's Centre for Cities by academics Liz Troni and Max Nathan, dismisses the importance design plays in urban renaissance.

These findings will come as a blow to Rogers, given that the IPPR 'hosted' the recent incarnation of the task force, and it is also headed up by his son Ben Rogers.

The article's complaint is that Rogers has failed to take into account the economic drivers in the current growth of Britain's cities.

'The Urban Task Force says that cities are back - and they are,' the article says. 'But Lord Rogers and his task force have missed the big story.

'Urban renaissance is not all about design, important though that is. The economy is driving the resurgence of British cities and that means the recovery may be more fragile than it looks.

'Better design has also helped, many cities now look and feel better. But these catalysts are relatively small, even in big cities.

'Ultimately, the growth of city-centre living reflects the fundamentals; without jobs, people won't stick around and flats will empty out. So city-centre living is a matter of economic process.

'The taskforce is right; the job is far from done. But better design will not help us meet the real challenges that our cities still face. There's a growing gap between successful and struggling urban areas,' the article added.

by Ed Dorrell

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