Government Plans Eco-Towns

23 April 2008

Photo: Ecoshomes

Gordon Brown has announced plans to house 100,000 people in 10 new eco-towns. The proposed areas could contain up to 20,000 homes and are intended to combine the need for homes with helping the environment.

Councils will be invited to bid to host the other settlements which Mr Brown said would have bus routes, cycle lanes and schools designed in a way to make the communities carbon neutral overall. The plans were first rolled out last summer but a recent announcement has fleshed them out with more detail. 70 applications have been received, 15 will be shortlisted, and ten settlements actually built. The towns will have to be “zero-carbon as a whole” and an “exemplar” in at least one area of environmental sustainability.

Photo: Cala Domus

Ministers have promised that no new homes will be built on protected green-belt land.

Local opposition is growing, for a variety of reasons, which include the loss of agricultural land, damage to attractive landscapes, and that the developments would not be carbon-neutral if they were isolated from facilities so that residents would have to drive considerable distances to purchase things or take their children to school.

David Lock, chairman of the Town and Country Planning Association, said: “There has never been a true zero-carbon settlement and the eco-towns will not achieve it either. They will generate much less greenhouse gas than normal but to call it zero-carbon is slack language.”

Lock, a strong supporter of the eco-town concept who is advising developers on four of the proposed settlements, said the zero-carbon claim was raising expectations too far. Anthony Henman, father of tennis-player Tim Henman, is an objector to a proposed 5000 home development near Weston-on-the-Green in Oxfordshire: “This will destroy our village community as we know and enjoy it.”

Caroline Flint, M.P., Minister for Housing and Planning said: “Any new settlement must be of sufficient size to ensure a good level of services, jobs and community facilities so as to create attractive and sustainable places to live.  There should be provision within the town of a good range of facilities, including a secondary school, shopping, business space and leisure.  All of these issues will need to be tested in the consultation process and in further work on the schemes themselves.”

With affordable homes making up between 30 per cent and 50 per cent of the houses built in these projects, Caroline Flint added, "We have a major shortfall of housing and with so many buyers struggling to find suitable homes, more affordable housing is a huge priority. We don't want to create green ghettoes, but dynamic and thriving comunities - with the highest standards of design, an acre of green space for every hundred homes, and outstanding public transport with a stop within 400 metres of the doorstep."

The full shortlist of locations is:

Pennbury, Leicestershire; Manby and Strubby, Lincolnshire; Curborough, Staffordshire; Middle Quinton, Warwickshire; Bordon-Whitehill, Hampshire; Weston Otmoor, Oxfordshire; Ford, West Sussex; Imerys China Clay Community, Cornwall; Rossington, South Yorkshire; Coltishall, Norfolk; Hanley Grange, Cambridgeshire; Marston Vale and New Marston, Bedfordshire; Elsenham, Essex; Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire; Leeds City Region, Yorkshire.

Eco-towns Prospectus:


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