Headlines: November 17th, 2000

The long-awaited urban white paper has finally surfaced – it promises a long-term strategy for action to breathe new life into towns and cities and turn them into the preferred choice as a place to live.The White Paper, ‘Our Towns and Cities: the Future’, includes a package of fiscal incentives aimed at encouraging people to invest in urban areas, and better planning guidance to put urban renaissance at the forefront of thinking on urban planning.

There will also be more money and flexibility for the regional development agencies, and a new 100 million pound public-private-partnership for the English Cities Fund

A new ‘green flag’ scheme, like the blue flags for beaches, will encourage the improvement of urban parks, play areas and open spaces.

There’s also linkages into Home Office measures on urban crime, and the promise of money from the ten year Transport Plan. The Government says the white paper pulls together pieces of a jigsaw of improvement measures from right across Government to bring out the best in what urban England has to offer.

It gives local authorities new powers to act as local decision-makers on what will work in each town and city. The Local Government Association has praised this measure as a break from the ‘one size fits all’ mentality it has previously accused Whitehall of possessing.

The paper draws on Lord Roger’s urban task force report of June last year to encourage better design, provide good homes at affordable prices, make our parks and playgrounds safe and attractive and bring more brownfield land and empty buildings back into use.

White paper link: www.regeneration.detr.gov.uk/policies/ourtowns/index.htm.

The rural white paper has also taken longer than expected to surface, but is promised soon.