Cabe has urged John Prescott to avoid the creation of "soulless housing estates" in his planned development of the Thames Gateway.
The architecture watchdog has urged the government to promote the kind of design-led projects exemplified by Crest Nicholson's Ingress Park scheme in Kent, visited by Prescott on Wednesday.

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.