Shropshire housing estate to be first example of quango's brief to regenerate sites of national importance.
English Partnerships intends to use a £50m housing scheme in the Shropshire new town of Telford as a demonstration project for its role as a regeneration agency concentrating on sites of national strategic importance.

The quango's job description was changed last month after a government report decided that its focus would be improved by transferring its smaller sites to local authorities and RDAs.

The refurbishment of 2500 homes at the Woodside estate will be the first EP project to be financed from the sale of its new town land holdings. Previously, money raised from the sale of such land went to the Treasury.

A spokesperson for EP said: "We are looking at the scheme as an exemplar project for future EP land development.

"We commissioned [urban designer] David Lock Associates to draft a report and it is being considered by the project partners."

It is understood that EP has discussed using proceeds from the sale of new town land to finance regeneration with its government sponsor, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

A project observer said: "The move will require government to accept that EP should use its assets to fund its regeneration role."

EP's board has not yet met to approve the decision, although board members are thought to support it.

A source who has seen David Lock's recommendations for the funding of the scheme said: "It's lucky that the recommendations coincided with EP's change of role. There used to be division between the needs of its new town holdings and its regeneration responsibilities."

David Lock has also drawn up a masterplan for the the 1960s estate. This recommends selective demolition and some new build.

The project is being led by Telford and Wrekin council. Other partners are Advantage West Midlands, the Housing Corporation and the Housing Trust.

Work on the project is expected to start next year.