Urban Task Force

UTF 2005

In 2005, members of the Urban Task Force (UTF) published an independent follow-up to the UTF’s 1999 report ‘Towards an Urban Renaissance.’ The 2005 report examined progress in the intervening years as well as seeking to stimulate debate and help shape future policy.

‘Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance’ found that – six years on – many of the original 105 recommendations of the UTF had already been addressed by the Government, shaping much of current and future national policy on England’s towns and cities. In the original UTF study, a vision was set out of well-designed, compact and connected cities supporting a diverse range of uses. A measurable change of culture in favour of towns and cities had occurred and people had started to move back into city centres. For example, in 1990 there were just 90 people living in the heart of Manchester; some 15 years later, this had increased to 25,000 residents.

Increasing re-use of previously developed sites instead of building on greenfield sites raised the percentage of new developments on brownfield land by nearly a quarter between 1999 and 2005. Average building density increased from an average of 25 dwellings per hectare to 40 dwellings per hectare over the same period. A new code of sustainable building ensured some progress was made to reduce the environmental impact of new buildings and investment in public transport infrastructure was increased significantly, with greater attention given to the needs of pedestrians and sustainable transport. New strategies were put in place to bridge the disconnect between central and local government and improve how cities are planned and built. The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment was established to champion design quality; the Academy for Sustainable Communities and the Regional Centres for Excellence were launched to address the skills deficit. The performance of local authorities had improved and greater powers were devolved to cities and regions.

Whilst the new report celebrated progress made, it also revealed that a number of the same issues persisted, requiring renewed attention from Government.

For example, growing housing demand – including the requirement for more social housing – remained a major challenge; renewable energy sources would need to be further developed, alongside improved methods of CO2 absorption and reduced energy demand; greater investment was required in green technologies and businesses – including the development of bio – and nano-technologies – and control of resources such as water, as well as improved protection against flooding and deforestation. Furthermore, the report highlighted the need to protect green space and existing resources used far more effectively. In particular, design quality would need to become a central objective for those public bodies with responsibility for the built environment, and design input made at board level.

The UTF’s work demonstrated that the widely-shared vision of a lasting Urban Renaissance can be realised if past experience is heeded and existing problems are acknowledged and addressed.

Location London, UK
Type Masterplanning
Date 1996 - 2000 
Client Local Government
The Architect Richard Rogers Partnership

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