Urban Task Force publishes halfway report

Ideas for revitalising England's towns and cities are set out in a halfway report published on January 13 1999 by the Urban Task Force, chaired by leading architect Lord Rogers.

The Task Force vision includes a combination of economic, social and environmental objectives which together are intended to enable English towns and cities to rival leading international urban centres.

The report sets out the main themes which underpin the work in progress: regional competitiveness; strong local government; social well-being; strategic land use planning; and targeted public investment and maximising private investment.

The report highlights the Task Force’s intention to review all the main instruments – land use planning, land assembly, urban design and finance – in its Final Report to the UK government in the early summer.

“An urban renaissance is not an option – it is a necessity,” said Lord Rogers. “At the moment far too many of our towns and cities are wasted assets. A national strategy of compact urban development will meet the twin necessities of solving our city crisis and providing millions of new dwellings. It will be based on design excellence, social inclusion and environmental responsibility.

“In our report, which is based on extensive public consultation, we have set out the principles which will guide our final recommendations. An urban renaissance is not going to come easily or cheaply. Achieving the necessary changes is going to require a radical new policy agenda within the context of a coherent urban philosophy. That will mean a commitment to our towns and cities extending right across Government.”

The Urban Task Force was established by UK Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in May 1998 to identify ways of improving urban areas. Over the past six months the Task Force has been engaged in a programme of public consultation.

In addition it has completed a programme of study tours at home and abroad with more visits planned in the New Year. Members of the Task Force and Working Groups have so far visited Manchester, East London, Sandwell, Salford, Liverpool and Leicester in the UK, and the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and the US. Visits to Plymouth, Portsmouth and Sheffield, are planned.

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