Hall rejects latest task force target

A key planning expert on the reconvened Urban Task Force has rejected the group's call for higher density and brownfield development targets.

This week Bartlett School of Planning professor Sir Peter Hall said that although he agrees with most of the report he cannot back increased density and brownfield goals. The rest of the group wants a minimum density of 40 dwellings per hectare and 75 per cent of homes to be built on brownfield land.

But Hall argued that such targets would deepen the housing crisis. "If implemented, these proposals will mean many more flats and fewer family homes and could threaten the character and green spaces of existing neighbourhoods," he warned.

ODPM figures show that the national percentage of flats has doubled in five years to 34 per cent. The Town and Country Planning Association backed Hall's stance. Director Gideon Amos said: "Rather than town cramming we need proper planning to avoid building future slums."

The task force report, which follows up progress on its original recommendations in 1999, maintains that England's urban areas still suffer from poor design and environmental needs are being marginalised. It calls for design champions to be appointed in public sector bodies.

Task force chairman Lord Rogers said: "We must ensure that the quality of the built environment is of the highest design standards to sustain real social and economic regeneration."

He criticised the Thames Gateway for failing to live up to its potential, arguing that the plethora of regeneration agencies involved in the area has reduced the effectiveness of delivery.

RTPI president Ron Tate said the report is "bursting with positive ideas and strong statements of intent on regenerating urban areas". But he added: "Without increased government commitment to skills and resources the delivery of such aspirations will be pie in the sky."

The ODPM welcomed the report, saying it provides "a valuable contribution" to the debate on urban regeneration.

Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance can be viewed via www.PlanningResource.co.uk.

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