Rural campaigners ask Government to scrap eco-town plans

Countryside campaigners are calling on the Government to rethink existing eco-town plans and instead focus on one or two schemes which truly achieve what they set out to deliver.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) claims the nation has been misled and the planned eco-towns will not be as green as they seem.

Marina Pacheco, CPRE’s Head of Planning, said: “To begin with, CPRE supported the eco-towns initiative. Who would object to exemplar schemes built to high environmental standards which provide the affordable homes the nation desperately needs?

“But we now believe we have been led astray. What will this programme deliver? It appears increasingly to be about spin with very little substance.”

She said the CPRE’s key concerns included siting, with many of the proposals likely to be ‘car-dependent housing estates’ with no working transport links.

It is also concerned that most of the sites were predominantly greenfield with two actually lying in designated greenbelts.

The organisation also claims that most of the proposed eco-towns go against local plans agreed with communities and therefore have no local democratic mandate with site-selection based on arbitrary, mainly developer-led, bids rather than sound planning in the wider public interest.

“We are urging the Government to go back to the drawing board,” said Ms Pacheco.

“Many of these shortlisted schemes are recycled, failed proposals. The Government insists that eco-towns must be freestanding new settlements. But by refusing to look at alternatives, such as eco-quarters and redevelopment sites already coming through the planning pipeline it is missing a golden opportunity”

Consultation on the eco-town proposals closed on June 30.

Sam Bond

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