Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

Eco-towns public consultation deadline extended

Eco-towns public consultation deadline extended

COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT News Release (036) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 26 February 2009

Local residents are to be given more time to respond to the Government's second eco-towns public consultation after Housing Minister Margaret Beckett today extended the deadline for responses.

The consultation on the draft Planning Policy Statement (PPS) and Sustainability Appraisal on eco-towns has now been extended to Thursday 30 April, meaning it will run for more than five months. There will be a further opportunity for the public to have a say once planning applications are submitted for eco-towns.

Housing Minister Margaret Beckett said:

"Eco-towns present a superb opportunity to provide more affordable housing which is built to the UK's toughest ever green standards, and we cannot afford to miss it. But it is vital we identify the right locations for these eco-towns and I will not support any proposal that our assessment and consultation concludes is unsuitable.

"I know this is an issue that raises a lot of strong opinion on all sides. I have extended the deadline to ensure that all parties, irrespective of their views, are given the full opportunity to have their say, and I urge everyone to respond to this consultation."

The consultation extension has been announced following yesterday's release of the full High Court written judgement on the Judicial Review on eco-towns, which the Government has won on all grounds.

A viability study on the proposals submitted by developers will also be published shortly and will provide more information to people looking to respond to the consultation. Ministers will carefully consider all consultation responses before coming to final decisions on the PPS.

Notes to editors

- This current round of eco-towns consultation on proposed standards for eco-towns and prospective locations started on 4th November 2008. Following January's Judicial Review into eco-towns, which was dismissed on all grounds, we have agreed to extend the consultation deadline to ensure all parties have sufficient time to respond. To respond to the consultation, visit: http://ecotownsyoursay.direct.gov.uk/. A new animated video of what eco-towns might look like is also now available at: http://ecotownsyoursay.direct.gov.uk/what-is-an-eco-town/video/

- The consultation consists of the draft Planning Policy Statement and supporting Impact Assessment and Sustainability Appraisal. A viability study of the Eco-towns Programme prepared by external advisers for Communities and Local Government will also be published shortly for each proposed scheme.

- The standards for eco-towns proposed in the draft Planning Policy Statement include:

* Achieving zero carbon status across all the town's buildings, including commercial and public buildings as well as homes - a significantly tougher threshold than any existing or agreed targets

* Allocating 40 per cent of the area within the town to be green space, at least half of which should be open to the public as parks or recreation areas

* Requiring individual homes to reach the Building for Life silver standard and also achieve 70per cent carbon savings above current building regulations in terms of heating, hot water and lighting

* Providing a minimum of 30 per cent affordable housing to provide more homes for social rent and assist those struggling to get on the housing ladder

* Creating more options for travel so that residents are able to make the majority of their journeys without a car, such as by public transport, walking and cycling

* Ensuring a minimum of one job per house can be reached by walking, cycling or public transport to reduce dependence on the car

* Locating homes within 10 minutes' walk of frequent public transport and everyday neighbourhood services

* Raising the threshold for individual homes so that they must all achieve at least level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, which includes standards for household waste recycling, construction waste, water efficiency measures and reduced pollution

The full Planning Policy Statement can be found at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/ppsecotowns

- Following the end of this consultation, the Government will announce a final shortlist of locations with the potential to site an eco-town. Schemes in these locations will then need to apply for planning permission and go through the local planning process. Eco-towns should be considered in the same way as any other major development proposal and the Government remains committed to the plan-led system. The eco-town standards set out in the Planning Policy Statement, and the assessment work on locations, will be a material consideration for decision makers.

- There are currently eleven locations on the eco-towns shortlist: - Rackheath, Greater Norwich; Middle Quinton, Warwickshire; Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire; Ford, West Sussex; Bordon-Whitehill, Hampshire; St Austell (China Clay Community), Cornwall; Rossington, South Yorkshire; North East Elsenham, Essex; Pennbury, Leicestershire; Weston Otmoor, Oxfordshire; - North West Bicester (Cherwell) - an alternative to Weston Otmoor. The developers promoting Marston Vale in Bedfordshire withdrew from the eco-towns process earlier in February.

Media Enquiries: 020 7944 3049
News Releases: http://www.communities.gov.uk/newsroom

Reduced financial uncertainty for customers and significant financial savings for Councils.