CABE has warned the government not to concentrate exclusively on inner-city regeneration at the expense of more suburban areas.

Speaking at the RIBA’s conference in Bristol, John Sorrell, the chairman of CABE, argued that “mini-icons” should be built in neighbourhoods.

Sorrell said: ‘The centres of big cities are not, on the whole, the backdrop to everyday life for most people, most of the time. There is a danger that in hailing some notable successes we neglect, or edit in our mind’s eye, the problems that still remain.

“For every prize-winning public space like Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester there are many streets and spaces not very far away that have been neglected for decades.”

Sorrell hailed Will Alsop’s Peckham Library for raising spirits and for bringing quality design to the “ordinary man”.

He added that architects could participate in regeneration by designing “mini-icons”.

He said: “I have no doubt about the ability of architects in this country to create a new kind of icon, what we might call mini-icons.

“These are buildings or spaces that become local heroes, that the community feel have been designed and built for them.

“They are both, in my view, joyful antidotes to the lowest common denominator project that I’m afraid is still too common.”