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Eco-towns developers blasted for lack of public transport plans

Eco-towns risk becoming car-dominated “carbon towns” unless drastic action is taken to rewrite government proposals, says a new report from a government advisory panel.

The Eco-Towns Challenge Group's report urges all of the 15 shortlisted developments to be revised to include a tram/train or rapid busway, often utilising disused rail lines.

The group has also suggested that each scheme promoter rewrite its transport proposals on the basis of a $300 a barrel oil price.

Such a scenario is considered a strong possibility within several years.

Redrafted proposals should give an economic and ecological justification for including more public transport options in the proposals, panel member and executive director for the Campaign for Better Transport Stephen Joseph told NCE.

"It would show that the eco-towns would stand up in economic terms as well as ecological terms," said Joseph.

"And to do that would require a completely different approach to transport modelling which would be very challenging to a lot of people."

The panel criticised road proposals within eco-town submissions.

Construction of the A27 Arundel bypass is part of the proposal for an eco-town at Ford in West Sussex.

In response housing minister Caroline Flint said: "I have been clear from the start that only those bids that reach the highest possible standards for sustainability can make it through.

"This process was meant to be a challenging ride for the developers… some clearly need to up their game and the ball is now in their court."

Meanwhile, the Town and Country Planning Association has called for a public inquiry to be held into any eco-town proposal not already allocated in a Local Development Plan.

ECO-TOWNS PANEL RECOMMENDATIONS

Marston Vale, Bedfordshire
Build new tram/train through the development linking Milton Keynes to Central Bedford.

Hanley Grange, Cambridgeshire
"Deliver a bus rapid transit by extending the existing Cambridge Southern Busway.

Curborough, Staffordshire
Park and Ride proposal risks residents continuing to rely on their cars.

Rossington, South Yorkshire
Reopen local train station and upgrade line into Doncaster with links to Leeds-Sheffield South Yorkshire Line.

New Marston, Bedfordshire
Consider Bus Rapid Transport.

Ford, West Sussex
Run Thameslink through the town and abandon A27 Arundel Bypass.
Weston Otmoor, Oxfordshire
More detail needed on how proposed road charging would be enforced

Bordon-Whitehill, Hampshire
Look at reopening abandoned Longmoor Military Railway with link to former Bentley-Bordon light railway.

Pennbury, Leciestershire
Tram system or personal rapid transport

Manby, Lincolnshire
Reinstate disused railway for tram/train

Middle Quinton, Warwickshire
Re-open disused rail line to Stratford with tram/train connection to Birmingham

North East Elsenham, Essex
Consider light rail and tram/train to connect Elsenham with local stations

Coltishall, Norfolk
Upgrade Bure Valley railway to tram/train standard into Norwich

St Austell (china clay), Cornwall
Facilitate electric cars powered with on site renewable energy. Build guided bus or "rail circle"

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