Jon Rouse, chief executive of CABE, said: "We are seeing a lot of poor high-density schemes in the South-east, which amount to soulless housing estates."
Prescott this week pledged £330m over the next three years to kickstart development in five areas in the Gateway. These are east London, Greenwich-Woolwich, Barking Reach, Thurrock, and north-Kent Thameside. It is hoped that this pump priming will draw in £1-2bn from the private sector.
The other three growth areas designated by Prescott's communities plan will also receive a cash boost to improve transport links, recycle old industrial land, and provide leisure and community facilities.
Cambridge and Harlow will be given £30m to complement 26,450 planned homes. Milton Keynes and the South Midlands will receive £63m to build 133,000 homes by 2016 and Ashford in Kent will receive £8m to create a sustainable community of 31,000 homes by 2031.
The government has created two urban development corporations for Thurrock and east London with sweeping planning powers to co-ordinate the housebuilding process.
Prescott said that the funds marked the start of a real and long-term commitment.