WSP is offering free consultancy services to a Soweto community group on ways to regenerate the South African township.

The sustainability arm of the multidisciplinary outfit has just completed a report on possible projects to develop the township's transport, housing and waste systems.

The report will be given to the Soweto Development Foundation, set up by South African president Thabo Mbeke. It will be used by the foundation to present regeneration ideas to funding bodies such as local authorities and the private sector.

WSP is now waiting for the go-ahead from the foundation and local authorities to develop a full strategic development plan for the township of 5 million people just outside Johannesburg.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to introduce a new paradigm or a new start for a city," said Peter Sharratt, director of sustainability at WSP.

"Conditions in Soweto are deteriorating.

The way forward is to get private sector partnering and to attract the business they need to improve the quality of the environment," Sharratt added.

WSP has helped the foundation identify a range of areas that need improvement and worked with it on potential projects to improve these areas.

"The houses are too small for the extended family structure, so there is a need for a new housing type. We are also investigating the viability of earth and mud as building materials. It is not about recreating a vernacular architecture but about using these materials in a new way," said Sharratt.

He added that WSP will concentrate on one or two small marker schemes to build confidence.