Experts deliver tough verdict on eco-towns

Developers bidding to create one of up to ten controversial eco-towns still have "a lot of work to do" according to a Government-appointed panel of experts.

Publishing a report on 13 of the 15 shortlisted proposals, the team of experts from the worlds of design, the environment, transport and sustainability challenged the applicants to do more.

Some of the most damning verdicts included labelling Curborough’s eco-proposals as an “add on to an existing application” and the New Marston bid was criticised for resembling “a typical commercial scheme” which did not meet the eco-town brief.

The report is the first the panel have published after examining the proposals and grilling those behind them about all aspects of day-to-day life in the developments.

John Walker, former chief executive of the British Urban Regeneration Association and chairman of the panel, said: “We have seen much to admire, but in all cases we are challenging the developers to take major steps forward.

“We want the final eco-towns to be better than the best of the current examples that do exist in the UK and the rest of Europe. Clearly there is still a lot of work to do.”

Reacting to their conclusions, housing minister Caroline Flint said the panel were playing a vital role in encouraging developers to innovate.

“This process was meant to be a challenging ride for the developers, and they need to be open to the creativity of these ideas,” she added.

“Some clearly need to up their game and the ball is now in their court.”

Developers will now be able to consider the comments before they face the panel again next month to discuss their work.

Ministers revealed the eco-towns shortlist (see related story) and named the panel of 12 experts (see related story) in April this year.

Kate Martin

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