Property: New estates deserve a sporting chance

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Indy Lifestyle Online
It isn't often that a passion for football is deployed to stir the collective conscience of the property world. But this week, Sir John Hall, entrepreneur and chairman of Newcastle United - at least for a few weeks more - treated all those who heard him deliver the annual Hampton Lecture to an unqualified endorsement of the value of sport in urban regeneration. Yet his own discovery of the passions football inspires have led him to see the game as a tool for personal as much as regional revitalisation. Sir John, the man behind the vast Metro Centre in Gateshead, spoke eloquently of "breaking into the cycle of decline" through sport. He would like to "prick the conscience" of other property entrepreneurs while recognising that at one time "cranes on skylines" were enough for him.

Before long there will plenty of cranes at the Millennium site on the Greenwich Peninsula, part of a whole swath of London that Sir John describes as being more deprived than anything he has seen in the North-east. Most people will know it as the spot where the camera starts at the beginning of EastEnders. So far, a shortlist of four consortia has been drawn up for the 32-acre Millennium village, the first phase in the development of the site which in size is equal to half of Kensington and most of Notting Hill. The village - 1,000 homes including social housing, a school, health facilties and shops - will not include large leisure areas. They form an important part of the masterplan for the whole though, according to Ralph Luck, English Partnerships development director for the Greenwich Peninsula. "We expect sport to engender a strong community spirit and especially around the focus of the school," he says. As yet, then, nothing to suggest a Peninsula football team might one day join the London clubs.

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Somebody stands to gain from the Labour party's decision to downsize in Bury St Edmunds. Since it failed to take the seat at the general election, the party is leaving its prominent headquarters in the historic core of the town for smaller premises nearer the centre. The appropriately pink- painted Lansbury House has a Georgian facade, but many of the period features inside have not survived. At present it is laid out as offices and meeting rooms, but could be turned back into a private home. The guide price is pounds 145,000, through Bedfords (01284 769999).

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In recent months, the amount of property available to let has grown more quickly than the numbers of people looking to rent, Hamptons International letting division says. Penny Parr-Head, director, says that in July, August and September last year, there were on average 3.1 applicants in London for every property. That has dropped to 2.4 this year. In the country, the same quarter a year ago saw six applicants for every available property while the latest figures show that number to have dropped to 4.6 a property. However, in the third quarter of 1996, the country saw an 8 per cent drop in stock levels and they have not improved this year.

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