Two men behind government's original regeneration policy are brought back together after reshuffle.
Leading architect Lord Rogers is seeking a meeting with deputy prime minister John Prescott to look for ways to drive forward the government's stalled urban renaissance programme.

Last week Rogers made a speech in the House of Lords attacking the government's record and announcing that he intended to reconvene the urban taskforce – the body that set out the government's urban renaissance programme three years ago – because he was so frustrated with the lack of progress.

He said: "Despite many promises and some limited intervention, the government has yet to face up to the sheer magnitude of the problem."

Rogers' comments came on the same day as the Cabinet reshuffle in which Prescott regained the urban affairs portfolio in the newly created Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Prescott set up the taskforce when he was secretary of state for the environment, transport and the regions.

Members of the taskforce say Prescott telephoned Rogers within days of his reappointment. One said: "Rogers said, 'John, let's get around a table and discuss this: how can the taskforce help?' Clearly Richard is seeking a meeting with Prescott."

A spokesperson for Prescott said a meeting had not been arranged but added: "Lord Rogers is one of the people John Prescott is likely to want to reacquaint himself with now that he is reading himself back into the brief."

Rogers is holding the first meeting of the reconvened taskforce on Friday next week at his offices in Hammersmith, west London. The meeting has an open agenda but taskforce members are expected to put together a report or a statement to the urban summit in November, which will assess how successful the regeneration policy has been.

Despite its promises, the government has yet to face up to the sheer magnitude of the problem

Lord Rogers in Lords speech

It is known that members of the taskforce, who have spent months organising the Hammersmith meeting, are dismayed that many of the 105 recommendations made in the 1999 report Towards an Urban Renaissance have not been implemented.

Planner and historian Peter Hall, Countryside Homes chairman Alan Cherry, Llewelyn-Davies director Martin Crookston and London School of Economics academic Ricky Burdett are among the taskforce members who will attend the meeting next week.

Hall said: "The basic agenda is to review the progress of the past three years. The idea is certainly to produce something for the urban summit."

Cherry said he would be highlighting the government's failure to help developers. He said: "I will be stressing the importance of obtaining the support of developers. Regeneration cannot happen without this support."

Crookston said the government had failed to allocate adequate resources for the regeneration programme. He said: "There's a new Labour mantra: 'Much done, much more to do.' Emphasis needs to be placed on resources – this cannot be done on the cheap."

Burdett added that it had not yet been decided whether the meeting would be a one-off, or whether others would be required to prepare thoroughly for the summit. He said: "The aim is to use this opportunity to get together to focus the mind on what issues the issues are."

Diary of Labour’s botched urban renaissance

April 1998
Urban taskforce formed, chaired by Lord Rogers, after Labour government’s policy paper Planning for the Communities of the Future.
January 1999
The 14-strong taskforce publishes Towards an Urban Renaissance, recommending a faster planning process, greater local authority powers and VAT changes to aid brownfield scheme.
July 2000
Rogers vents anger at Tony Blair for failing to act on recommendations of report.
May 2002
Rogers reconvenes taskforce, again attacking government’s record on regeneration.