Govt over-states eco town’s green credentials

A Government department has been rapped by the advertising watchdog for misleading claims that a proposed eco town in Staffordshire would be built on brownfield land.

An advert put out by the Department for Communities and Local Government inviting the public to share their views on the proposal suggested that the entire development would be built on a brownfield site.

But in truth the majority of the site would be built on greenfield land adjacent to the formerly-developed site.

The Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint about the advert made by Lichfield District Council and a local pressure group opposed to the eco-town.

The advert read “An eco-town near you? Curborough, Staffordshire where a bid has been made for 5,000 homes on the brownfield site of the former Fradley airfield.”

DCLG accepted that the advert was inaccurate and said that the error had been made because it was based on information from a former consultation document, itself also inaccurate, which suggested the entire development would be built on existing hard standing at the airfield.

It said there had been no deliberate attempt to mislead and agreed not to publish the claims again.

Lichfield District Council also made a complaint about a second claim in the advert, that affordable – “up to half of the new homes will be priced so that first-time buyers and families can afford to buy them” arguing that as the proportion of homes designated as affordable had not been established yet, there were no grounds upon which to make this claim.

The ASA ruled against the council and in favour of the Government in this case, saying that all eco towns must have 30-50% affordable housing to earn the label, and the words ‘up to’ show those viewing the advert that the final figure has not been settled.

Sam Bond

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