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'Eco towns' need good transport links

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GORDON BROWN'S plans to build new 'eco towns' must be underpinned by investment in public transport, planning experts warned this week.

On Sunday prime-minister- inwaiting Brown pledged to build five zero carbon 'eco towns', housing 10,000-20,000 people each when he becomes prime minister.

Brown said he wanted to ramp up the volume of house building and to ensure that new buildings are carbon neutral, exempting them from stamp duty. This would increase the number of affordable homes.

But Council for the Protection of Rural England planning offi cer Kate Gordon warned that building zero carbon homes was not enough to make an environmentally friendly community.

'We're all for new, sustainable brownfi eld housing, but not if it's in the middle of nowhere with lousy access to public transport, ' she said. 'There's no point in building green homes if people have to drive to work.' Chris Ferrary, director of planner Steer Davies Gleave, agreed: 'There needs to be strong public transport in these settlements. There are very few places so far where that's been successfully delivered.

'It needs to be clear very early on where money for transport is coming from. Without an initial commitment to public transport my experience is that it gets omitted.' Arup director Malcolm Smith urged Brown to provide a mix of housing, offices, retail, leisure, health and education facilities that would enable communities to be largely self-sufficient, significantly reducing the need to commute.

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