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TORIES SET OUT 'URBAN VILLAGES' POLICY

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The Conservative party will this week propose to allow local people to create 'urban villages' when regenerating su...
The Conservative party will this week propose to allow local people to create 'urban villages' when regenerating suburban housing estates.

They would mix homes with employment uses, rented and freehold properties, and would be developed so that all the key facilities would be within easy walking distance.

The paper, written by Mark Prisk, a shadow minister and chartered surveyor, is being submitted to Michael Heseltine's cities taskforce, which has been asked to examine issues which must be tackled if sustainable regeneration is to be achieved.

The urban landscape has changed greatly in the last 30 years, yet single-purpose housing estates have failed to keep up, the party said. Too many estates were anonymous in design and soulless in character. Part of the problem was that they were planned to separate home from work, and owned homes from rented. When coupled with poor design for communal areas and poor facilities, the result was a breakdown in any sense of community.

Mr Prisk's paper proposes:

- Creating neighbourhoods on a human scale, in which people can walk to all the key facilities in just 10 to 15 minutes. Typically an urban village would be for 3,000 to 5,000 people;

- Allowing residential, employment and civic functions to co-exist, without the need for strict planning use controls;

- Developing a master plan for regeneration of the whole urban village, based on the wishes of local people, and which pays attention to design of the communal areas;

- Encouraging walking and cycling around the 'village' by ensuring that key facilities are just 10 minutes away;

- Offering this to local people as an option, not an order, as an additional tool for communities if they think it is appropriate.

Mr Prisk said: 'People don't like the standard little boxes of suburban estates, and they feel cut off in their cul-de-sacs. Their shopping parade is decaying and they admire the community spirit of many local villages.

'I believe these proposals will enable run-down housing estates to be transformed into living, working urban villages - into communities we will all want to live in and aspire to.'

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