Eco-town shortlist revealed
A shortlist of 15 locations that could house the Government's flagship eco-towns has been announced - and none of them will involve building on green belt.The shortlisted sites will go forward to the next stages of the application process, which includes public consultation and detailed sustainability appraisals, before the final shortlist is published later this year.
The eco-towns policy, announced by Gordon Brown last year, aims to create ten new zero-carbon settlements by 2020, each containing at least 5,000 homes with a high percentage of affordable housing.
Government said none of the shortlisted bids involve building homes on green belt land, and a number would use brownfield sites such as former MoD land, disused airfields and former mines.
The policy has stirred up fierce debate over recent months, but ministers defended the decision to build distinct new towns.
Housing Minister Caroline Flint said: "Building in existing towns and cities alone simply cannot provide enough new homes.
"I understand this is an issue that can raise strong opinions, but everyone now has the opportunity to express their views before any decisions are made."
A panel of experts will be formed to help developers improve their plans and deliver highly sustainable developments using leading green technologies, providing good public transport and safeguarding local wildlife.
The UK Green Building Council backed the announcement of the shortlist.
Chief executive Paul King said: "The introduction of eco-towns has had a rough ride, but I believe they deserve our full support.
"We've got a huge opportunity through the eco-towns programme to show that sustainability and quality go hand in hand.
"This is really about creating great places, where people will want to live for generations."
However, the Wildlife Trusts, which have previously raised concerns about the policy, said Government is still failing to put nature at the heart of the plans.
Chief executive Stephanie Hilborne said: ""Eco-towns need to be about much more than building zero-carbon homes.
"We also need to build in the right places - within environmental limits."
The shortlisted areas are:
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