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SAVE OUR CITIES, SAYS RICHARD ROGERS

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The irresistable demand for more households, if properly managed, could be a marvellous opportunity, says eminent a...
The irresistable demand for more households, if properly managed, could be a marvellous opportunity, says eminent architect Richard Rogers, writing in The Observer (p29).

Lord Rogers, who heads the government's urban taskforce, says: 'We could use it to reinvent our notion of the city, urban life and citizenship. It could be the basis for an attack on urban dereliction and entrenched poverty. All we have to do is to use our land better and so build more vital communities. For that, the key is to build dramatically higher densities.

'The British are extravagant with land. We insist on building as if we lived in the American Midwest or the Australian outback. The US builds on average 40 dwellings for every hectare (roughly the size of a football pitch); in Britain, we erect 23 new buildings for every

hectare, even though we are an overcrowded island where land is scarce...

'High density urban areas, if well managed and planned like the Georgian parts of our cities, are attractive to live in. They encourage civic pride, promote a sense of security and create social and economic integration.

'But where people are spread out more thinly, from the city centre to the suburbs, it becomes impossible to sustain the social interaction that is the basis for good urban life.

Instead, as the urban environment becomes brutalised, people move out and there is a polarisation into poor or wealthy ghettos. This generates a vicious cycle of social conflict, economic inequality and environmental decline...

'I believe that if the public were offered a choice to live in the conntemporary equivalent of a spacious Georgian terrace, with tree-lined streets and landscaped parks, close to good schools, public amenities and with access to public transport and a strong sense of

community and safety, they would see the benefits of city living. In fact, I am convinced that people would flock back to our town centres. This must be our goal - to stop people moving out and bring them back to the heart of our towns and cities'.

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