Government arse about face on regeneration

diggers350 tony at
Thu Dec 5 15:10:16 GMT 2002

Row over shopping centre magnate's appointment to regeneration agency,11200,853808,00.html

Matt Weaver

Thursday December 5, 2002 

The government agency charged with delivering inner city regeneration 
has come under fire after it appointed the developer of Europe's 
largest out-of-town shopping centre as its new chief executive.

David Higgins, who is currently the managing director of the Lend 
Lease Group the Australian company behind the giant Bluewater 
shopping scheme in Kent, is to be the new head of English 

The appointment of Mr Higgins, who has taken a pay cut of more than 
£800,000 to do the job, has prompted criticism from environmental 
campaigners, who point out that Bluewater-style developments are 
unsustainable and undermine established town centres.

It comes after English Partnerships was given an expanded role after 
last summer's spending review to promote an urban renaissance and new 
sustainable communities.

Friend of the Earth corporates campaigner Craig Bennett 
said: "Bluewater is not something that is going to deliver a 
sustainable development in the UK or an urban renaissance. It is the 
exactly opposite of that."

"People will assume that he (Mr Higgins) thinks that all development 
is sustainable development which is clearly wrong. He has a challenge 
to show that he has moved on from that kind of thinking."

Neil Sinden, policy director of the Campaign for the Protection of 
Rural England, said: "We would be concerned if this signals that 
English Partnerships was going to be interested in promoting out-of-
town developments of the kind that Lend Lease and David Higgins have 
been promoting."

"I would be pleased if Mr Higgins has undergone a Damascene 
conversion in relation to the issue of urban renaissance in 
preference to out-of-town development."

Mr Higgins said he understood the opposition to out-of-town shopping 
centres. But he insisted that Bluewater had helped regenerate north 
Kent and had been planned to ensure that it did not undermine 
existing town centres.

He said: "You have to ensure that you don't damage surrounding 
communities or the high street."

Mr Higgins, a 49-year-old Australian, who earned more than £1m last 
year, said he took the job because he felt he had something to 
contribute to regeneration in Britain. 

"Regeneration has become a personal passion in recent years and I am 
extremely pleased to be given the opportunity to lead England's 
national regeneration agency. 

Although Lend Lease is associated with Bluewater in Britain, it has 
international reputation for delivering regeneration after developing 
a run down area of Sydney for the 2000 Olympics.

Announcing the appointment, EP's chairwoman, Margaret Ford, said: "We 
are particularly pleased that David will be joining us, as his 
breadth of expertise in property development and regeneration is 

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list