The international development group Happold Consulting has won a contract to advise on strategic planning in central Albania.

It will focus on the development of housing, infrastructure and services around the capital, Tirana.

Large-scale migration is expected from villages into the urban centres, a trend that has grown since the fall of communism 15 years ago.

The 18-month project will be carried out with international development consultant Landell Mills and Albanian firms.

The work will be paid for by *957,000 (£659,000) from the European commission's EuropeAid scheme.

Happold Consulting is the management consultancy arm of engineer Buro Happold. It was launched in January to provide strategic advice to the public sector.

Marie Zanders, international development consultant, said: "It's a great chance to help the Albanians avoid the pitfalls of unrestrained growth that have been seen in many developing countries over the years."