Village Web Site Forum

Paul Wilkinson
Thursday, November 6, 2008 08:56
NODISC - CPRE press release
From Hilary Fenten, who represents the Craven District of CPRE North Yorkshire.


The eco-towns programme should be scaled back, with a focus on one or two truly exemplary schemes, and tired, failed proposals dropped.[1] This was the reaction of countryside campaigners, CPRE, to the publication by the Government today (Tuesday) of a draft policy statement and impact assessment. [2]

Kate Gordon, CPRE's[3] senior planner said:

'There are welcome signs that Ministers are starting to listen to our concerns about the need for the environmental implications of eco-towns to be thoroughly tested through local and regional plans.

'Fundamental questions need to be asked about the overall scale of the Government's original ambitions and whether these remain realistic given current economic conditions. It is vital that the Government does not sacrifice high environmental standards in order to deliver housing numbers.'

Kate continued:

'The continuing insistence that eco-towns must be new settlements is worrying. Many of the schemes are in locations where development would entail building on greenfield land, including high quality agricultural land, or in areas at risk from flooding. The combination of poor locations and the cost of providing high quality public transport there means that shortlisted schemes will inevitably be car dependent.'

CPRE will be examining the proposed policy and schemes carefully in the light of the following principles:

  • all schemes should be thoroughly tested for their effects on the environment and communities through regional and local plans,

  • the planning policy statement should not create a 'presumption' in favour of new towns or greenfield development over more sustainable forms of development, eg. urban regeneration,

  • there should be a clear sequential approach in planning policy favouring urban brownfield development over development on green fields,[4]

  • there should be no requirement for an eco-town to be a new settlement or contain a minimum of 5,000 homes, as this will stifle innovation and good practice in redevelopment and with smaller schemes,

  • the policy should address ways in which existing places can become 'eco-towns', including through the development of 'eco-extensions' or 'eco-quarters' - we welcome the possibility of an urban quarter in Leeds,

  • eco-towns should be agreed with, not imposed on, local communities, with public consultation following best practice models of public consultation.

Kate Gordon concluded:

'We set out our case for eco-towns to meet ten tests back in February this year. It is vital that final schemes met these tests if they are to leave a positive legacy for the future.'[5]


[1] Planning Policy Statement (PPS): Eco-towns - Consultation and Impact Assessment is published by the Department of Communities and Local Government.

[2] CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is a charity which promotes the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England. We advocate positive solutions for the long-term future of the countryside. Founded in 1926, we have 60,000 supporters and a branch in every county.
President: Bill Bryson. Patron: Her Majesty The Queen.

[3] A number of the 15 shortlisted eco-town locations, including Pennbury in Leicestershire, have already been assessed through the planning process and rejected as unsuitable.

[4] The Environmental Audit Committee is calling for this, ie. a clear sequential policy, in their twelfth report 2007/8: Greener homes for the future? An environmental analysis of the Government's housebuilding plans, 3 November 2008.

[5] A copy of CPRE's Ten Tests is downloadable here.

Paul Wilkinson
Thursday, November 6, 2008 09:21
More excellent information from the CPRE:


In a long-awaited report, published 3rd November 2008, the Labour-dominated Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), calls on the Government to revise housebuilding targets in light of the economic downturn, or risk unleashing a swathe of greenfield development.

Responding to the report, Kate Gordon, CPRE's senior planner, said:

'The Environmental Audit Committee's excellent report hits the nail on the head. We wholeheartedly endorse its recommendations, and share the deep concerns of the Committee's members.

'The Government has a good record on building on brownfield land but the pressure for greenfield development will intensify in an economic downturn. Inflexible Government targets and planning rules are forcing local councils across the country to needlessly allocate greenfield land for housing. Without a policy change local authorities will have no choice but to grant permission for greenfield development.

'In a period of economic decline developers will inevitably "cherry pick" green fields over less profitable brownfield locations.'

'It is vital that, in the current market downturn, targets are revised to ensure that we recycle brownfield land and bring back into use empty buildings before building on green fields, just as the EAC has recommended. We urge the Government to heed the Committee's advice and act on their recommendations.'


The report, "Greener homes for the future? An environmental analysis of the Government's housebuilding plans", warns that greenfield sites could be developed unnecessarily unless the Government revises its housebuilding targets in the current economic downturn. The report says that the Government has favoured building more homes over minimising their carbon impact, and suggests that current economic conditions provide an opportunity for revising the Government's target to build 3 million new homes by 2020.

Key recommendations from the EAC report:

The Government should urgently review the basis of its target for building 3 million new homes by 2020.

A clear sequential test favouring brownfield sites for development over greenfield sites should be reintroduced into planning policy.

Targets to make all new homes zero carbon by 2016 should be used to speed up the development of community renewable energy sources for local neighbourhoods.

Government should look urgently at introducing feed-in tariffs as a way of making zero carbon homes more financially attractive to developers.

Eco-town proposals should be re-examined to ensure they have good public transport links, and are located close to commercial centres and employment opportunities, so that they do not lead to large rises in road journeys.

All major housing building developments from 2016 should have to meet the same environmental tests as eco-towns.

The Government should investigate the potential for the redevelopment of vacant buildings to create up to 1.2 million new homes.

Despite the current market downturn, the Government should ensure that minimum standards for public transport and green infrastructure apply to all new developments.

More aspects of the Code for Sustainable Homes - not just energy efficiency - should become mandatory for builders from 2010.

The Government should suspend the implementation of its regional spatial strategies until it has carried out and published an environmental appraisal of its house-building targets.

Friday, November 7, 2008 21:21
It would seem that sense may yet prevail. Our immediate challenge may be getting the local council to think ahead.

  Posting to the forum is de-activated due to lack of use.

  You are welcome to browse through posts but cannot add comments or start new topics.