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Debate round the dinner table until 2am was the immediate after- effect of a talk this week on new urbanism by Andres Duany, the influential American architect and planner.

In the US, where suburbia is king and the integrity of so many cities has been destroyed, he is trying to turn the tide with traditional neighbourhood developments.

The baton has been taken up in the UK by the Urban Villages Forum, which would like to see the variety and mix of a city packaged into the scale of a village. Crucial is our willingness to throw away the car keys.

"The average person living in suburbia spends two hours a day in a car, which amounts to eight weeks a year and an average cost of pounds 6,000. Can you imagine what kind of holiday you could have?" Duany asked his Clerkenwell audience, who included developers, a prime target for re-education.

There are signs of hope. Many are beginning radically to revise their building strategies, says David Lunts, chief executive of the forum. "It should not be so easy to build badly. Just look out of a train leaving London and see the bland, single-use sprawl."

Urban Villages Forum : 0171 490 2702.

Shops are not the only ones offering discounts at present. For a few days more, anyone buying an apartment at Ice Wharf, a waterside development in King's Cross, will not have to fork out the 5 per cent deposit.

Until Christmas, London Buildings will pay the deposits on the flats, which range in price from pounds 147,000 for two bedrooms, to pounds 197,000. This could save buyers as much as pounds 8,500. The architect of the 94-apartment development is Tchaik Chassay, who designed the Groucho Club and Camden's Jazz Cafe.

Battlebridge basin is one of the last stretches of private waterway in London in an area undergoing massive regeneration, the largest in the UK, with a pounds 251m investment programme over the next seven years.

Alan Selby and partners: 0171 613 3055