HC Deb 26 March 1996 vol 274 c532W
28. Mr. Evennett

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to improve the urban environment; and if he will make a statement. [20965]

Sir Paul Beresford

The Government are promoting the improvement of the urban environment through a wide range of policies and programmes.

Chief among these is the single regeneration budget, SRB, which has brought together 20 separate programmes previously operated by five different Government Departments into a single flexible fund for local regeneration. The SRB challenge fund encourages local partnerships to produce comprehensive packages for regeneration, including the improvement of the environment and quality of life in their area.

The SRB also incorporates English Partnerships, the main public body facilitating the regeneration of brown-field sites throughout England, in partnership with the private sector, local authorities and communities, and the urban development corporations, which are tackling successfully the major problems of dereliction in their areas.

The Government's quality initiative continues to raise awareness of the importance of good design both in individual buildings and in the built environment as a whole, stimulating ideas on how to achieve quality in the future for all those involved. A key element is our national urban design campaign, sponsoring local partnerships in 21 urban design projects in cities, towns and villages across the country.

Our greening the city initiative, launched last October, will promote discussion and ideas about the opportunities for creating or enhancing the landscaping of urban areas. An important step is the publication today of my Department's good practice guide "People, Parks and Cities", which will help local authorities and other agencies develop future strategies for their parks and adopt good practice in their management and funding.

Taken together, these measures will contribute substantially to the sustainable improvement of our urban environment, for the benefit of all those who live, work and visit our towns and cities.