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The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"The biggest obstacle is the past"
 real 56k

Housing and Planning Minister, Nick Raynsford
"We have to carry on this urban renaissance"
 real 28k

Lord Rogers, Urban Taskforce
"It is a much better step than I expected"
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Thursday, 16 November, 2000, 14:10 GMT
Prescott plans 'urban renaissance'

The government plans to bring about an "urban renaissance" in England via a billion-pound package of measures to encourage people back into city centres.

Among proposals in the Urban White Paper are plans for more homes to be built on brownfield sites, public transport links to be improved and the construction of five more 'millennium communities' - similar to the one set up alongside the Millennium Dome.


Obviously we have got a lot to do

Lord Rogers
Unveiling the long-awaited document, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told the Commons that tackling inner city decay was at the heart of the government's agenda.

The paper is part of the government's response to last year's report by the Urban Taskforce, led by Lord Rogers, who welcomed the plans but warned it would take years for Britain to catch up with leading European cities.

Population exodus

Mr Prescott said he wanted to create a "lasting urban renaissance" across the country.

Also among the government's proposals is the creation of 12 more urban regeneration companies to help tackle those areas hardest hit by deprivation.

The deputy prime minister unveiled proposals aimed at halting population exodus from run-down urban areas to the countryside.

Mr Prescott - who runs the super-ministry responsible for the environment, transport and the regions (DETR) - wants to revitalise inner cities and make them more attractive to families and young professionals.

More than 1,700 people a week are estimated to be moving to the countryside.

The deputy prime minister said an urban summit in 2002 would take stock of progress and produce a `state of the cities' report in 2005.

Speaking ahead of the statement leading architect and Labour peer Lord Rogers said: "It's a much better step than I had expected, but it's a long road. Obviously we have got a lot to do."

Massive dereliction

"We have done nothing for 30 years and we need to catch up 30 years in comparison with other major cities in western Europe," Lord Rogers added.

"Our cities are already improving in the centres, but there is massive dereliction.

"In east Manchester, four-fifths of the dwellings are derelict or empty sites where the majority of the population has moved out, where anybody who can, will move out. "

Proposals rejected?

Responding to Mr Prescott's announcements, shadow environment secretary Archie Norman welcomed many of the proposals in the White Paper.

But he suggested that it had not addressed many of Lord Rogers' recommendations or simply rejected them out of hand in what he said was "a very disappointing tally."

The White Paper runs alongside a series of tax breaks promised in Chancellor Gordon Brown's pre-Budget statement last week.

Mr Brown pledged more than 1bn of tax breaks over five years to contribute to the regeneration programme.

The spring Budget will introduce exemption from stamp duty for all property transactions in Britain's most disadvantaged communities, at a cost of around 100m a year by 2002-2003, along with tax relief for cleaning up contaminated land.

Among the proposals in the Urban White Paper are:

  • Better public transport to reduce dependence on the car.
  • More homes to be built on 'brownfield' sites.
  • An overhaul of the planning system to promote urban regeneration.
  • A new urban cabinet committee to co-ordinate policy on health, education and economic regeneration.
  • An urban summit in two years time to check on progress.

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See also:

08 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Breathing life into dead spaces
10 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Boost for inner cities
02 Oct 00 | UK
Living for the city
30 Jun 00 | UK
Rogers: Put cities first
16 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Urban regeneration boost unveiled
16 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Urban renewal plan, at a glance
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