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New eco towns planning policy fails to stem tide of criticism

Latest Government efforts to resurrect its floundering eco-towns initiative were criticised yesterday for failing to outline how public transport schemes for the proposed sustainable towns can be delivered.

Housing Minister Margaret Beckett yesterday issued a draft Eco-towns Planning Policy Statement which sets out to define "tough" green standards for new developments, including a 70% carbon reduction for homes compared to current building regulations, 40% of the area within the town to be green space and the design of the town to be such that over half the trips originating in the town can be made without a car.

However, Campaign for Better Transport warned that without paying close attention to public transport the eco town ethos will be undermined.

"Our research shows that we need high quality public transport from day one and good local services and employment so that people can choose to live in eco-developments without having to own a car," said Campaign for Better Transport Campaigns Director Jason Torrance.

"The policy statement recognises this but the Government has not spelt out how it proposes to deliver these or how it will get all Government departments and transport authorities to co-operate."

The Government aims to build ten eco-towns across England by 2020. It announced a shortlist of 15 potential sites initially bidding to becomes eco-towns, but this has subsequently reduced to 12 as developers pulled their bids due to concerns over market conditions and local opposition to schemes.

Some experts predict as few as three towns will be built (NCE 4 September).

A detailed sustainability appraisal, carried out by consultants Scott Wilson, on each of the twelve locations shortlisted to become ecotowns was also published yesterday, kicking off the second round of consultations on the towns.

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