Urban taskforce chairman says devolvement of power, not government policy, is the key to urban regeneration.
Urban taskforce chairman Lord Rogers intends to call on the government to devolve greater power to towns and cities to speed up urban regeneration.

The Labour peer is expected to tell the urban summit in two weeks’ time that elected mayors – and not central government policy – are the only way to revitalise run-down urban areas.

Rogers says in an interview with Building that government plans are doomed to fail. Instead it should hand power to civic leaders.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that all successful cities are driven by brilliant people in those cities,” he says.

“I don’t think that ministers can possibly address the state of our streets, the crap paving, the dog shit, the appalling urban furniture, the ghastly road fatalities.

“They can only look at national policy and cities don’t respond to national policy.”

All successful cities are driven by brilliant people in those places

Lord Rogers

Rogers has headed the urban taskforce since 1998 when it was set up by the government to rejuvenate Britain’s cities, which Rogers has described as “the worst in Europe”.

His 1999 report, Towards an Urban Renaissance, suggested 105 ways of improving cities but the government dropped many of the proposals from its urban white paper in 2000.

Rogers, who also works as architectural adviser to London mayor Ken Livingstone, said the Greater London Authority had a vision for the capital but was hampered by lack of power. “I think it’s completely ridiculous. We’re now giving other cities elected mayors but we are still finding it very difficult to give away central government’s powers to those people. Cities have got to be given greater freedom, even to make mistakes.”

Rogers expressed sympathy for Transport for London boss Bob Kiley. He said Kiley had been forced to watch from the sidelines as the government part-privatised the Tube network.