Yorkshire and the Humber
Thursday 3 April 2008 10:29
Communities and Local Government (Yorkshire and the Humber)
Leeds and Rossington among 15 locations shortlisted for next stage of eco-towns programme
The country's first eco-towns took a step closer to becoming reality today as Housing Minister Caroline Flint today announced 15 potential locations will go forward to the next stage, providing the opportunity for a major boost in affordable housing across the country whilst tackling climate change.
Housing Minister Caroline Flint said:
"We have a major shortfall of housing and with so many buyers struggling to find suitable homes, more affordable housing is a huge priority. To face up to the threat of climate change, we must also cut the carbon emissions from our housing. Eco-towns will help solve both of these challenges.
"Building in existing towns and cities alone simply cannot provide enough new homes. I understand this is an issue that can raise strong opinions, but everyone now has the opportunity to express their views before any decisions are made - because this is an issue that affects us all."
Based on an evaluation of the bids, the Government can today announce no new homes would be built on Green Belt land. In addition more than 30% of the overall new houses will be affordable housing, delivering tens of thousands more homes for those on lower incomes.
Publication of the shortlisted locations, which include Rossington, South Yorkshire, and a site in the Leeds city region, also reveals that they make significant use of previously developed brownfield land including former MoD land, military depots, disused airfields and former mining pits and industrial sites. The shortlisted locations address regional priorities such as a severe shortage of suitable housing (such as Elsenham and Ford) or the regeneration of former industrial areas (Marston Vale and New Marston).
More than 40 proposals have not been taken forward for being undeliverable or not ambitious enough to meet the high environmental and affordability standards set by Government.
To ensure the final eco-towns incorporate the best and most innovative proposals for sustainable living, Caroline Flint has also announced she intends to form a panel of experts who will work with developers to improve their plans. To be formed of leading figures from the fields of climate change and sustainability, energy, planning, transport, and business, the Eco-town Challenge will provide expert advice to bidders and challenge them to deliver the most sustainable developments possible.
"Some really innovative green ideas have been proposed - from free public transport for all residents to using the waste heat from nearby power stations to heat homes and businesses. But today I am setting the bar high and challenging bidders to go further.
"I have already rejected more than 40 proposals and those promoting eco town schemes cannot rest on their laurels. That is why I want a panel of experts challenging developers to meet the highest standards possible for sustainability, affordability and creativity."
Today's announcement of the shortlist of potential locations is only the first stage and they will now be consulted on with the public, local authorities and wider stakeholders. Bidders who have cleared the first hurdle will face considerably tougher tests ahead if they want to become eco-towns and will need to improve proposals still further.
Shortlisted locations now face further challenges including public consultation and a detailed Sustainability Appraisal which will assess the merits and challenges for each one.
The final schemes being promoted will have to reach zero carbon standards by promoting leading edge green technologies, provide high levels of affordable housing, demonstrate how they will deliver key infrastructure such as good public transport, schools and health facilities and safeguard local wildlife.
Eco-towns will be the first new towns since the 1960s and will tackle the combined challenges of climate change, the need for more sustainable living and a real shortage of housing for families and first-time buyers. The Government has said it wants to build five eco-towns by 2016 and up to ten by 2020 as part of ambitious plans to build 3 million homes by 2020.
With new communities being designed from scratch, eco-towns will also present an excellent opportunity to incorporate the best standards and latest developments in public services at the very heart of these new communities.
We will now consult widely for three months to get preliminary views on the benefits of eco-towns and these shortlisted locations, the first of four key stages to becoming an eco-town. A final shortlist of locations will be published later this year, after which each potential eco-town will need to submit a planning application.
Notes to Editors
1. 57 initial proposals were received from local authorities and developers across the country. The 15 shortlisted locations are:
- Pennbury, Leicestershire: 12-15,000 homes on a development incorporating brownfield, greenfield and surplus public sector land. Four miles south east of Leicester. This proposal could include 4,000 new affordable houses in an area of high affordability pressure.
- Manby and Strubby, Lincolnshire: 5,000 homes put forward by East Lindsey District Council on two sites, with large elements of brownfield land including a former RAF base. The proposal complements the strategic plan for the phased relocation of communities on Lincolnshire coast because of high flood risk, and could include 1,500 affordable homes in an area of very high affordability pressure.
- Curborough, Staffordshire: 5,000 homes on the brownfield site of the former Fradley airfield, ten miles from Burton. The proposal could include 2,000 affordable houses in an area of very high affordability pressure.
- Middle Quinton, Warwickshire: 6,000 homes on a former Royal Engineers depot which has a rail link to the Worcester-London rail line. Six miles South West of Stratford upon Avon. The proposal could include 2,000 affordable houses in an area of very high affordability pressure.
- Bordon-Whitehill, Hampshire: 5-8,000 homes on a site owned by the Ministry of Defence. A significant number of ex-MoD homes are already on the site, west of Whitehill-Bordon. The proposal could include 2,000 affordable houses in an area of very high affordability pressure.
- Weston Otmoor, Oxfordshire: 10-15,000 homes on a site adjoining the M40 and the Oxford-Bicester railway. Three miles south west of Bicester, the site includes a current airstrip. The scheme could include between 3,000 and 5,000 affordable homes, in an area of extreme affordability pressure.
- Ford, West Sussex: 5,000 homes on a site which includes brownfield land and the former Ford airfield. Close to rail line linking London and the Sussex coast. The scheme could include 1,500 affordable homes, in an area of very high affordability pressure.
- Imerys China Clay Community, Cornwall: Development of around 5,000 homes on former china clay workings, industrial land and disused mining pits no longer needed by owner Imerys. Close to St Austell. The scheme could include 1,500 affordable homes, in an area of extreme affordability pressure.
- Rossington, South Yorkshire: Up to 15,000 homes regenerating the former colliery village of Rossington, three miles south of Doncaster. The scheme could include 1,500 affordable homes, in an area of moderate affordability pressure.
- Coltishall, Norfolk: 5,000 homes on a former RAF airfield, eight miles north of Norwich. The scheme could include 2,000 affordable homes in an area of very high affordability pressure.
- Hanley Grange, Cambridgeshire: 8,000 homes on land adjacent to the A11 designed to improve the severe lack of housing in and around Cambridge. The scheme could include 3,000 affordable homes in an area of extreme affordability pressure.
- Marston Vale and New Marston, Bedfordshire: Up to 15,400 homes on a series of sites, including former industrial sites, along the east-west rail line to Stewartby and Millbrook. The scheme could include 2,000 affordable homes in an area of high affordability pressure.
- Elsenham, Essex: A minimum of 5,000 homes north east of the existing Elsenham village. Close to M11 and the London to Cambridge rail line. The scheme could include 1,800 affordable homes in an area of extreme affordability pressure.
- Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire: An eco-town proposal was submitted for Kingston-on-Soar, to the south of Nottingham. In response to representations from Rushcliffe Borough Council, this site is not to be pursued. However, the Government is proposing to carry out a further review in partnership with RBC to consider whether there is a suitable alternative location with the potential to be viable within the Rushcliffe local authority area.
- Leeds City Region, Yorkshire: A number of eco-town proposals were submitted for locations within the area of Leeds City Region partnership of 11 authorities and principally between Leeds and Selby. The Leeds City Region Partnership has indicated support in principle for an eco-town within the sub-region. The Partnership has proposed a further study to compare the best alternative locations across the Leeds City Region partnership area. The Government has agreed to support this approach, on the basis that it will allow a further announcement to be made shortly of one or more sites for consultation
Contact details for the developers of these sites and information on the locations that are not going forward are available on http://www.communities.gov.uk/corporate/
2. This consultation is the first of four key stages in the eco-towns process.
Stage One: Three month consultation on preliminary views on eco-town benefits and these shortlisted locations;
Stage Two: Further consultation this summer on a Sustainability Appraisal, which provides a more detailed assessment of these locations, and a draft Planning Policy Statement.
Stage Three: A decision on the final list of locations with the potential to be an eco-town and the publication of a final Planning Policy Statement, later this year.
Stage Four: Like any other proposed development, individual schemes in these locations will need to submit planning applications which will be decided on the merits of the proposal.
3. The key criteria for eco-towns were set out in the Eco-towns Prospectus published in July last year:
(i) Eco-towns must be new settlements, separate and distinct from existing towns but well linked to them. They need to be additional to existing plans, with a minimum target of 5,000-10,000 homes;
(ii) The development as a whole should reach zero carbon standards, and each town should be an exemplar in at least one area of environmental sustainability;
(iii) Eco-town proposals should provide for a good range of facilities within the town - a secondary school, a medium scale retail centre, good quality business space and leisure facilities;
(iv) Affordable housing should make up between 30 and 50 per cent of the total through a wide range and distribution of tenures in mixed communities, with a particular emphasis on larger family homes;
(v) A management body which will help develop the town, provide support for people moving to the new community, for businesses and to co-ordinate delivery of services and manage facilities.
The Eco-Towns Prospectus can be found at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/
4. The Eco-towns Challenge will be a panel of experts to provide advice to bidders to help raise the level of environmental ambition in schemes. The panel will assess, challenge and advise schemes on their environmental proposals and their effectiveness.
5. The Housing Green Paper made it clear that the housing numbers in existing and in some cases emerging plans were not high enough to address the pressing problem of long term housing affordability. We are therefore aiming to complete a further set of Regional Spatial Strategy partial reviews by 2011 that will include housing numbers for local planning authorities that are consistent with our national aim to deliver 240,000 homes per year by 2016. We expect eco towns to contribute significantly to help to meet that target for additional housing and we want to assure local authorities which include an eco-town in their future housing plans that it will, of course, count towards their future housing targets, consistent with our national figure of 240,000 homes per year by 2016. Some authorities are already taking forward development plans which go a long way towards this level and in these areas an authority will be able to count an appropriate proportion of the eco-town towards its local plan target.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF CLG BY HELEN ATHA, COI YORKSHIRE & HUMBER.
Client ref PN187/08
COI ref 159755P