Torys plan to “revolutionise” towns and cities

The Conservative party is expected to propose revolutionising the way towns and cities look and feel by enabling local people to create mixed-use urban villages when regenerating their suburban housing estates.

These urban villages will 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.

A paper written by Mark Prisk, a shadow minister and chartered surveyor, is being submitted to Michael Heseltines Cities Taskforce, which has been asked to examine issues that 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.

Too many of these estates are anonymous in design and soulless in character.

Part of the problem is that they are planned to separate home from work, and owned homes from rented.

When coupled with poor design for communal areas and poor facilities, the result is a breakdown in any sense of community.

The paper aims to change this by creating neighbourhoods on a human scale, in which people can walk to all the key facilities in 10 to 15 minutes.

Typically an urban village would be for 3,000 to 5,000 people.

Residential, employment and civic functions would be able to co-exist, without the need for strict planning use controls.

A master plan for regeneration of the whole urban village would be developed, based on the wishes of local people, which pays attention to design of the communal areas;

Walking and cycling around the village would be encouraged by ensuring that key facilities are just 10 minutes away.

This would be offered to local people as an option, not an order. Whitehall doesnt know best the aim of this paper is to provide an additional tool for communities, if they think its appropriate.

Prisk says: People dont like the standard little boxes of suburban estates and 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.