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The furniture giant Ikea is planning a huge urban renewal project in East London -- a privately-owned, eco-friendly development in which all housing is rented. Doug Saunders visits the proposed site to see the future of managed living for himself.

The 11-hectare East Strand development is to feature high-tech waste management, car-free streets and rented housing -- all of which will be fully owned by Ikea.

"It will look, once complete, like a reproduction of the sort of historic, chic downtown neighbourhoods you find in the far more central parts of London or Paris. At its core are straight, car-free streets lined with simple townhouses and ground-floor-access flats in five-storey rows. In the alleyways behind – an imitation of the classic London backstreet, the mews – will be little two- and three-storey homes, all with direct access to the street.

The 1,200 homes and apartments, 40 per cent of them large enough for families, will be priced to appeal to a range of incomes. A few seven- to 11-storey condominium towers will pepper the area, and offices for high-tech firms and a hotel will fill the busier edges. Secreted beneath the whole structure is an underground parking garage, to keep cars off the interior streets. Bus lanes and pedestrian walkways will cut across it, squares and public areas abound. The whole thing is designed to create the sense of felicity and discovery you get when wandering a historic European neighbourhood – or, for that matter, an Ikea store."

Full Story: Welcome to Ikea-land: Furniture giant begins urban planning project

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