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Grand design

Local government

Investment in transport around the region may be stuck in a funding road block, but once you get to the urban areas plans for regeneration are blooming vibrantly. So vibrantly that Channel 4 and Talkback TV are investing in a reality television series, fronted by Grand Designs presenter Kevin McLoud, tracking progress of the revitalisation of one Yorkshire town - Castleford.

Centre stage with McCloud will be construction project manager Mace and Stanhope construction director Peter Rogers who, with others, are pulling together a raft of small schemes that together will lift the image, atmosphere and lifestyle of Castleford.

Projects range from a new footbridge across the river to open up access to the waterside, to a park and play area on wasteground beside historic mining cottages.

Leading architectural and landscape designers, such as Martha Schwartz from the US, were selected by a local panel.

The series is being filmed thoughout 2005 for likely screening in 2006.

So far £5M is invested in projects, raised from a mind boggling number of sources including Wakefield District Council, English Partnerships, Yorkshire Forward, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and single regeneration budgets. Channel 4 is also contributing as part of its public service broadcasting responsibility.

Executive project director David Barrie says the involvement of TV has added a bit of immediacy to the construction/ regeneration process.

There is a big masterplan in a bottom drawer somewhere.

But no one is waiting for everything to be in place before work starts.

'We have had to be consciously practical. There is only so much money at the moment, so we work with what we've got and get on with it, ' Barrie says.

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