Podium: Planning Sustainable Communities from a Speech by the Deputy Prime Minister to the Local Government Association Conference
Prescott, John, The Independent (London, England)
ONE OF the biggest challenges facing this country is how to tackle the issue of household growth while building more sustainable communities. The number of households is continuing to grow, putting pressure on our precious countryside.
In February I published our document Planning for the Communities of the Future. That set out our commitments to protect the countryside, to revitalise our towns, and set a new target for 60 per cent of new homes to be built on previously developed land. Local authorities are at the centre of this process.
You will have a much greater say in shaping the future of your region, through greater ownership of the regional strategy.
With greater ownership comes increased responsibility. Through the regional planning conferences, you will have to defend your proposed level of housing provision. And once the strategy has been approved, then local authorities must take responsibility for carrying it through into development plans.
Promoting mixed uses in town centres will help breathe new life into our towns and cities, and enhance our quality of life and character of place. It will also foster mixed communities, which avoid ghettos of social exclusion and can be sustained in the long run
One means of establishing mixed-use developments is the creation of urban villages.
The Millennium Village at Greenwich will be a tangible, living example of sustainable mixed-use development. It will provide a new, environmentally- friendly way of living in the 21st century. It will set the design standard for the future development of brown-field sites.
We will next week be announcing the next Millennium Village on the site of a community ravaged by the closure of its coal mine.
Concentrations of poor housing and deprived neighbourhoods contribute to the problems of social exclusion. Under-investment in housing in the mid-Nineties added to the problems. Local authority housing suffered most of all. We took swift action to redress this with out Capital Receipts Initiative. We have already made pounds 800m extra available for housing and housing-related regeneration schemes.
We all know that there is scope for reducing waste. Let me ask you - why do local authorities have more than 30 different types of manhole cover, for example? …