The Government's architecture watchdog has condemned as a failure a flagship housing project intended as the catalyst for major regeneration of deprived wards in Birmingham and Sandwell.
In an unusually strongly-worded report, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe) said the redevelopment of the Cape Hill Brewery site in Smethwick failed to meet eight out of 11 objectives for Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's housing market renewal initiative.
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It added it did not have sufficient information to assess the remaining three.
"We think that the project fails both as urban design and architecture," Cabe's design review panel said. "Cabe cannot support this scheme as currently proposed."
The development, by Persimmon Homes, Sandwell Borough Council and Birmingham City Council, is intended to kick-start the transformation of largely run-down areas including Aston, Lozells, Handsworth, Winson Green and West Bromwich.
The scheme, known as Urban Living, is one of 12 "pathfinder" areas across the country that have been awarded funds under the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's controversial #1.3 billion housing market renewal programme.
Daniel Le Neveu, land director for Persimmon Homes West Midlands, said it was important to note the "indicative plans reviewed by Cabe are subject to change".
"The Masterplan which forms part of the outline planning application has been produced in accordance with Sandwell Council's design brief, which also went through public consultation, and Cabe's comments relate on the whole to specific detailed issues that will be dealt with at the reserved matters stage of the planning process."
Sandwell Council's cabinet member for regeneration and transport, Councillor Bob Badham, said: "It is perhaps unfortunate Cabe chose to take to review previously established principles together with already out-of-date plans to which much of the criticism refers."
A spokesman for the ODPM said further design work had always been planned in Sandwell and Cabe's report would be a useful contribution to it.