Development quango English Partnerships has been criticised by MPs for failing to develop the potential of new towns in England and Wales.
A government report says EP sold off key sites rather than using them to regenerate the 22 new towns. Since 1999, when EP took over the sites, it has raised £600m for the Treasury and ploughed back £120m into the towns themselves.

However, EP's role is likely to become less important as many of these sites are to be transferred to local authorities and regional development agencies following last week's review by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

The report, compiled by the select committee on transport, local government and the regions, says a fund should be set up to channel funding into regenerating older areas of the new towns that were poorly planned, designed and built.

It says: "Much of the housing was put up quickly using innovative designs that have not stood the test of time. It now requires demolition or at least major refurbishment."

The report notes that authorities such as Telford inherited 5000 timber frame houses built 30 years ago, many of which are nearing the end of their useful lives.

The report also says that some town centres, such as those in Bracknell, Berkshire and Cwmbran, South Wales, are unattractive and have become no-go areas.