The Government is focusing its regeneration agenda on London at the expense of the regions, a senior Conservative said yesterday on a visit to Birmingham.

Alistair Burt, shadow minister for communities and regeneration, said there was "legitimate concern" regions were being left out of major projects.

However, he said his party had not come to a decision on whether more power to areas outside the capital through a city region model would give regions more of a voice.

Mr Burt was speaking on a visit to the EC Harris Masshouse development in Birmingham city centre.

He said: "If you look at everything out of John Prescott's former department, it has all been about the growth of areas around the south.

"It is as if they think there is nothing you can do about the advancement of London, and so the building of more housing attracts more people and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"The regions have a part to play in this. But does the Government make decisions that put the regions at the heart of its priori-ties? There is a legitimate concern there.

"The Conservative Party is determined to challenge this centralisation and ensure that the regions play a part."

Mr Burt also said he was "excited" with the Mass-house scheme, which will see the transformation of the central area around Moor Street Queensway.

He said there was a need for "high profile city centres" in the major cities.

"There is no doubt that something is needed in the middle that makes people talk about a city," he said.

"If people's perceptions of Birmingham before were about the old Bullring and the inner ring road, people's perceptions have now changed with the new Birmingham."

It was also crucial for city living to be encouraged in central areas, Mr Burt said. But he called for the wider benefits of regeneration to be felt in more run down areas.

"There are too many areas that surround the city centres that are being neglected," he said. "We need to look at these shadow areas and ensure that the benefits of regeneration are rolled out."

Mr Burt said the Conservatives had not announced a position on the debate over whether regions in England should be given more power by the Government.

He said: "We find the city region debate interesting as we are interested in what local areas want to do together. But we are not so keen on the Government's top down approach to everything."