Unveiling a progress report on eco-towns housing minister Caroline Flint said: "These would be the toughest standards ever set out for new development and demonstrate that there will be no compromise on quality with eco-towns."
The standards being developed will include achieving zero carbon status across all the town's buildings, including commercial and public buildings as well as homes. Other measures include allocating 40% of land within the town as green space and providing a minimum of 30% affordable housing for social rent and assist those struggling to get on the housing ladder. Access to public transport will need to be within ten minutes walk of all housing which must attain at least level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, including standards for household waste recycling, construction waste, water efficiency measures and reduced pollution.
The progress report also clarifies how the planning process for eco-towns will work, making it clear that in each case a planning application will have to be submitted and that it will be for the local authority to consider that application. The eco-towns standards will also insist that proposed developments must comply with existing planning policy.
A formal consultation on both these draft standards and a detailed sustainability appraisal of each location will now be published in September. A final decision on up to ten potential locations will be made in early 2009.
Flint said: "We need to build more homes in this country, but given that housing contributes 27% of our carbon emissions we must also take this opportunity to trial new ways of tackling climate change. In both cases, doing nothing is not an option."