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Richard Caborn, the planning minister, has praised Birmingham as a model of the 'urban renaissance' needed to regen...
Richard Caborn, the planning minister, has praised Birmingham as a model of the 'urban renaissance' needed to regenerate the country's city and town centres, reported The Birmingham Post (6 Nov, p5).

He praised the£1.1bn alliance between three developers to turn the city into a major shopping centre. 'I think Birmingham has long cast off its old image and has become a leader in this field. Other cities can learn from it,' he said.

'The very strong partnership between the private sector and public bodies here is there for everybody to see. Birmingham has confirmed itself as a major international city with the G8 summit and I think it will now become a major European retail centre. It is an asset to the UK.'

Speaking at the British Council of Shopping Centres annual conference, Mr Caborn said: 'Our policy of putting town centres first is here to stay. We are not trying to strike a balance between town centres and out-of-town shopping.

'In 1980, only five per cent of retail turnover was in out-of-town shopping centres, byt eh year 2000 it could be a third, and still rising. We think this has gone far enough. Our policy is town centres first.'

Mr Caborn said local planning authorities had to take a positive approach to planning to promote competition, innovation and growth.

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