Shadow environment secretary attacks "disappointing" urban white paper and outlines Tory plans to scrap RDAs and foster regional identity in design.
Shadow secretary for the environment Archie Norman has taken the first pre-election swipe at government regeneration plans.

Norman said the government's urban white paper, which set out a five-year urban renaissance plan, had been put to one side until after the general election.

Speaking to Building on Tuesday, Norman said: "The white paper was very disappointing to most people in the industry. Now it has been put on the shelf while they have got on with election planning." Strategies outlined in the urban white paper, announced in November, include a cabinet committee on urban affairs, the revision of planning rules and the establishment of public-private regeneration companies.

Norman added that the government had failed to deliver on pledges made on improving the design of public buildings and regeneration in inner cities.

He said: "The government made a great display about better design but have not really delivered anything at all. The policy behind the regeneration of entire areas is far too fragmented and has become superficial." A Labour Party spokesperson responded: "It is very silly to say a general election makes any difference to the regeneration timetable. The truth is, we have a robust regeneration policy and the Tories have a threadbare one.

"The Tories are committed to £16bn worth of cuts to public spending, so where is the money coming from?" The Conservative Party's regeneration plans, outlined in its Believing in Cities document last year, include abolishing regional development agencies. Responsibility for regional development, including housebuilding targets and local design styles, would be devolved to local regeneration firms.

Norman said: "Currently the same building and architectural trends are allowed everywhere you go. We are keen to enable communities and regeneration companies to create a sense of towns and villages with a style of their own. Buildings in York shouldn't look the same as those in Shrewsbury."

  • Regeneration minister Beverley Hughes launched the urban green spaces taskforce this week to improve inner city parks and open spaces as part of the drive for better towns and cities outlined in the urban white paper.