Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Eco-town plans shape up, say experts

Eco-town plans shape up, say experts

COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT News Release (204) issued by The Government News Network on 31 July 2008

Significant progress has been made in the proposals for eco-towns, according to a report published today by the Eco-Town Challenge Panel, an independent group of experts in sustainability and urban development set up by Housing Minister Caroline Flint.

The Panel found that many of the bidders had responded positively to the first set of recommendations, published last May, but it still wants to see further improvements to the transport and employment strategies for a number of the proposed eco-towns.

Housing Minister Caroline Flint, who last week announced that eco-towns faced the toughest ever green standards for new housing, said:

"The progress made over the past few weeks demonstrates the willingness of the promoters to react to the expert advice they have been given. But there are no done deals and only the best quality schemes with very high sustainability standards will qualify for eco-town status."

John Walker, chairman of the Eco-town Challenge Panel, said:

"Many of the proposals have shown significant and encouraging progress during those few weeks. In all cases, the Panel made suggestions about where it believes further progress is most needed, and has encouraged the direction in which much of the work is going. It is now for the proposers to consider whether and how to respond to these comments through the further development of their ideas."

The Panel was set up by the Government to encourage bidders for eco-towns to raise the standard of their proposals, in order to maximise the potential for eco-town development in every location. The panel has not been asked to select schemes or to recommend which schemes should or should not go forward. Their role is to encourage bidders to develop their proposals to fit well within their surroundings, demonstrate innovative approaches to produce groundbreaking sustainable developments.

The full report of the Panel's findings can be found on

Notes to editors

1. The thirteen shortlisted locations for eco-towns are: Pennbury, Leicestershire; Middle Quinton, Warwickshire; Bordon-Whitehill, Hampshire; Weston Otmoor, Oxfordshire; Ford, West Sussex; St Austell China Clay Community, Cornwall; Rossington, South Yorkshire; Hanley Grange, Cambridgeshire; Marston Vale, Bedfordshire; North East Elsenham, Essex; Greater Norwich; Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire; and Leeds City Region, Yorkshire.

The last three sites were not assessed by the Challenge Panel as the final sites in these areas have not yet been determined.

2. The first round of recommendations from the Challenge Panel were published on 19 May. More details are at and the full report can be found at

3. The Challenge Panel members are:

John Walker (Chair) - Former Chief Executive, British Urban Regeneration Association. Expert in delivery of large mixed use development

Dr Liz Goodwin - Chief Executive, Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP). Expert in use of natural resources and recycling

Stephen Hale - Director, Green Alliance. Environment expert

Sir Peter Hall - President, Town and Country Planning Association. Expert in urban issues, housing and planning

Wayne Hemingway - Founder, Red or Dead. Expert in design and social issues

Stephen Joseph - Executive Director, Campaign for Better Transport. Transport expert

Nick Mabey - Chief Executive, E3G. Expert in energy issues and economic development

Kris Murrin - TV presenter, expert in sustainable transport and children's issues

Sunand Prasad - Royal Institute of British Architects President. Expert in design and architecture

Liz Reason - Director, Reasons to Be Cheerful consultancy. Expert in innovative approaches to energy issues and climate change

Sue Riddlestone - Director and co-founder, BioRegional Development Group. Expert in sustainability and sustainable development

Joanna Yarrow - TV presenter, green-lifestyle specialist and founder of sustainability company Beyond Green

Richard Simmons - Expert in architecture and the built environment

Lynda Addison - Managing Director of Addison & Associates. Transport and planning expert

Barry Munday - Architect with experience of New Town development and regeneration. An advocate of best practice, good housing design and new methods of construction

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