A consortium in Essex has expressed interest in joining the second wave of eco-towns, with proposals for a new 8,000 home settlement

Cambourne offers valuable lessons to the consortiums behind the proposed eco-towns

Housing and Planning Minister John Healey confirmed interest from a partnership of councils, the Haven Gateway Partnership, which has secured £200,000 to study the viability of the plans for an area along the A120 corridor, taking in the local authority areas of Colchester, Braintree, Tendring and Essex County Council.

Healey said: “Councils in this Essex partnership recognise we need to plan, design and build our homes differently in the future. Britain is leading the world with these new eco-town standards, which combine affordable housing with new green infrastructure and an exceptional quality of life.”

Before any plans can proceed, proposals will need to meet the green standards set out in the eco-towns planning policy statement, published in July, and will be subject to widespread public consultation and local planning approval. The £200,000 funding will help to get proposals and masterplans off the ground. To meet the planning policy statement guidance, eco-towns must include:

  • the toughest standards for sustainability, with smart meters to track energy use, community heat sources and charging points for electric cars.
  • smart, efficient, homes – at least 30 per cent of the homes must be affordable – taking their energy from the sun, wind and earth.
  • all homes located within ten minutes’ walk of frequent public transport and everyday neighbourhood services
  • greenspace, including parks, playgrounds and gardens making up two-fifths of the towns. Children will attend local, zero-carbon schools, making use of the paths and cycleways
  • zero-carbon developments, not just homes, including shops, restaurants and public buildings. Car journeys should make up less than half of all journeys. And all the homes will reach at least level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes – including higher standards for energy efficiency, and water efficiency.

Previously announced contenders for the second wave of eco-towns are Northstowe (Cambridgeshire), Shoreham Harbour (Brighton), Yeovil, Taunton, Leeds City Region, Lincoln area and Gainsborough, Dearne Valley (Sheffield), Cornwall (St Austell), Cranbrook (Exeter) and Fareham (Hampshire).

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