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Prince's charity in 'Bimby' bid

Policy-makers, developers and architects need to take more notice of what the public wants from its neighbourhoods to help tackle the country's housing shortage, one of the Prince of Wales's charities has warned.

A report by the Prince's Foundation for Building Community stressed that residents were against rapid, exclusive and overbearing urban development, favouring street-based housing, walkability, green spaces and a sense of local identity.

The research, entitled Housing Communities: What People Want, argued that "beauty in my backyard" - or Bimby - developments were needed to overcome opposition to new house building - the "not in my backyard" or Nimby attitude - and pave the way for more homes to meet demand.

"Communities around the UK are concerned about out-of-context, inappropriately scaled buildings, poor architectural design and have experienced the dire end results of design processes that do not consult local people properly," it said.

Charles marked the launch of the report with a visit to the Packington Estate in Islington, north London - championed as a successful regeneration of 1960s housing blocks which has created a mix of high quality private and social housing.

The Prince visited a family in social housing in Union Square, next to the Packington Estate.

Speaking to the family, he said: "The most amazing thing is how you have increased the space."

Afterwards, he spoke to Yaseen Pathan, 21, and Georgia Hardy, 23, who had been on the Get Into Construction programme, funded by the Prince's Trust.

Both had been unemployed before joining the programme but are in work now.

The Prince told them: "I'm sorry to drag you away."

He asked Mr Pathan, who now works in the local area, about his progress and whether he would recommend the programme.

Mr Pathan said: "I've been finding it really good.

"I would definitely recommend the programme, because it actually works."

Ms Hardy was made homeless at the age of 11.

The Prince remembered her from The Pride of Britain Awards earlier this year.

"I'm very proud of you," he told her.

The Prince met with a group of experts, stakeholders, a local developer and councillors at The Arc Centre, Packington Estate.

Speaking to the group, Elliot Lipton, managing director of First Base, said: "It's about flexibility and adapting and changing things.

"It's about creating a community.

"We've found it's been possible to have homes that people want to live in and at an affordable price."

Following on, Nicholas Boys Smith, the founder of think tank Create Streets, told the Prince: "The question we've been pondering is if (we) know that needs to be done, why isn't it being done?"

The 47-page publication said existing residents should be allowed to remain in their neighbourhoods following the redevelopment of estates.

"Too many estate regeneration schemes have seen residents alienated in the process of redevelopment," the report said.

"Strategies of change must ensure, first and foremost, that existing residents can remain in their neighbourhoods.

"Our research has identified the qualities that people cherish in the places they want to live: walkability, street-based housing, well-defined public and private green spaces and a sense of local identity.

"These factors produce neighbourhoods that are desirable, supported and sustainable and cultivate a sense of place.

"People do not want rapid urban development that is exclusive, overbearing and which compromises the character of their local areas.

"Policy-makers, developers, local representatives, designers and architects need to give these public preferences the consideration they are due if we are to support a successful, thriving built environment in the UK."

Charles also met gardeners in the community, James Hewson and Alison Rice.

Mr Hewson told the Prince his parents had bought a property in the area for £1,086 in 1960.

He said: "Gardening had brought (the community) together."

Ms Rice told him: "I have been here for 30 years and I have only recently got to know my neighbours."

Another local family who met the Prince, Rupert and Emma Egerton-Smith, were planting with their 14-month-old son Louis.

Mr Egerton-Smith is a musician and a painter.

Charles asked baby Louis: "Are you going to be a painter or a pianist or both?"

The Prince asked the couple if they had any more children.

"Well, we have one on the way but you have to keep it a secret," Ms Egerton-Smith.

The Prince agreed to keep the secret.

Charles praised the efforts of the residents gardening in Arlington Square, though he said: "I haven't planted a single bulb."

Consultation with communities often attracted cynicism and needed to be truly collaborative, the report said.

"At present, too much consultation is spurious and too much of what we are building is repeating the errors of the past," it added.

The report said: "Bimby (beauty in my backyard) developments are needed to overcome Nimby (not in my backyard) attitudes if we are to convince communities that new housing can successfully improve our built environment and to unlock the level of house building that is needed to meet the country's urgent housing demand."

Charles has a long-standing interest in the built environment and has often expressed his concern for how environments affect the way people feel and live.

His village development Poundbury in Dorset began in 1993 as an example of sustainable urban development and is now home to 2,000 people.

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