The government last week announced a shortlist of 15 possible sites in England for the 10 "carbon neutral" eco-towns of up to 20,000 homes. But critics claim that locating the eco towns in small rural sites will only increase car use and negate the effect of building carbon neutral homes.
"It's no use building carbon neutral, environmentally friendly houses if they are in the middle of nowhere with no facilities so that people have to drive for miles to buy a loaf of bread or take their kids to school," said chairman of the Local Government Association Sir Simon Milton. "The proposed change in the planning process will allow developments to be built in isolated areas without any regard to the essential facilities needed by people in their everyday lives."
The South East Regional Assembly (SERA) warned that the towns must be subject to the usual rigorous local authority planning procedures.
"There is great concern among local authorities that the selection of eco-towns has so far been independent of the usual planning process," said SERA chairman Keith Mitchell.
As NCE went to press the government was due to announce a panel of environmental, community and local authority experts to advise private sector bidders on how to build a truly sustainable eco-town.
The government will reveal more detailsin a soon-to-be published consultation paper.