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New homes 'too small' Watchdog slams facelift designs.

Byline: BEN SCHOFIELD

SCORES of houses being planned for a run-down Merseyside suburb are too small and will not raise the standards of the area, according to an architecture watchdog.

Government boffins slammed the design and layout of 159 houses developers and Sefton Council want to see built in Bootle.

They will replace rows of Victorian houses that are being torn down as part of the Housing Market Renewal project in the area.

But in its official reaction to the plans, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe) said: "We believe that the regeneration strategy in Sefton should embrace not just the renewal of parts of the fabric, but a broader approach to reviving the perception of the place.

"How can the programme of renewal build on the special qualities already evident in the place, celebrating its richness and making it a place of character and distinction? "In this regard we are not convinced that the perception of Sefton will be transformed by this new housing."

Cabe's Design reviewer Deborah Denner said: "It's being built in an area which has a distinctive character. What we would like to see is new development which builds on this distinctiveness and matches the quality of what's there already and in the surrounding area."

She also said the size of the houses fell below "best practise" benchmarks.

Mrs Denner added: "It may look like it's somewhere that's great to live. But when there's not enough space to do the things that you want to, it's likely to become a frustration.

"They might not continue to serve the community or people who have lived there for a long while."

Cabe also said it had concerns because the Kings Centre - a two-storey former-health centre - was not included in the latest plans.

It said the "fine building" was at risk of staying derelict unless it was quickly converted.

A planning application for the houses was approved in 2006 but has since lapsed.

Cabe added that it thought the "design quality" of the scheme had gone down since the first application was put in.

Nevertheless, Sefton's planning committee is expected to approve the latest plans at its meeting next Wednesday.

A spokesperson for developer Keepmoat Homes said: "In consultation with our partners, (Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council and The Evolve Partnership); and following comments from CABE we have modified the plans for Queens Bedford."
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 12, 2010
Words:397
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