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Developers angry at contractors' no-show

SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES: Contractors shun Manchester regeneration summit

DEVELOPERS attending this week's Sustainable Communities Summit in Manchester have attacked contractors for snubbing the event.

The summit, which was used as a launch pad for the Government's £38 billion plan to tackle major shortages in the housing supply, attracted over 2,000 delegates. Developers, housebuilders and social housing specialists all turned out in force with Countryside Properties, Keepmoat, Hammerson and Land Securities maintaining a strong presence.But contractors at the event were poorly represented.

Steve Atkins, development manager for Land Securities, who is working on a 15,000 home development at Kent Thameside, hit out at their noshow.

He said: 'It is extraordinary that they aren't here.We as developers need them to deliver our plans.'

Ralph Luck, Thames Gateway regional director at English Partnerships, also rounded on contractors. He said: 'It's simple. If the contractors don't buy into this, we can't.'

Delegates gathered to hear Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott showcase his massive five-year plan aimed at producing quality affordable homes across a range of housing types. The Deputy Prime Minister also launched a competition for house builders to design a prototype £60,000 home to help first time buyers onto the housing ladder.

But contractors, who have been invited to bid for the right to construct new developments on English Partnerships owned sites, were in short supply.

The development arms of Taylor Woodrow and Amec were present, but industry giants such as Laing O'Rourke stayed away.

One source at the summit complained: 'The whole event is pretty disappointing. It just smacks of the same old Government promises and a lot of hot air.We need more real people here - it's crammed with local authority do-gooders who haven't the power to make decisions.'

But Mr Prescott made a raft of announcements including plans for a new national skills centre in Leeds to meet targets for sustainable construction.

The Academy for Sustainable Communities is intended to encourage building professionals to work together to deliver massive regeneration projects.

One of the main aims of the centre will be to promote the skills needed by planners, architects and contractors to respond to a growing emphasis on sustainable towns and cities.

Prescott brands cheap homes criticism 'ridiculous'

DEPUTY Prime Minster John Prescott has hit out at claims that a house cannot be built for £60,000 during a speech in which he challenged the industry to bring affordable homes to the market.

Speaking at the sustainable communities summit, Mr Prescott said: 'I was told it's impossible to build a house for £60,000. One builder told me it can't be done without the houses being built in a straight line.That's ridiculous.'

Mr Prescott is demanding that 100,000 homes be built annually during the five-year plan and wants one third to cost less than the stamp duty threshold of £60,000.The DPM and Prime Minster Tony Blair unveiled English Partnerships own £60,000 design on Monday (right).

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