Greener living in Britain’s first eco-towns will become a reality for up to 30,000 people in five years’ time, as Housing Minister John Healey today announced the four sites that have passed the government’s tough standards to go through to the next planning phase, full public consultation and local planning approval.
- Whitehill-Bordon in Hampshire
- St Austell (China Clay) in Cornwall
- Rackheath in Norfolk
- North West Bicester in Oxfordshire
The successful eco-town sites will pioneer innovative design and infrastructure for greener living. They are Whitehill-Bordon in Hampshire, St Austell (China Clay) in Cornwall, Rackheath in Norfolk and North West Bicester in Oxfordshire. These sites have met the government’s tough standards during two years of thorough assessment.
Eco-towns will include:
- the toughest standards for sustainability, with smart meters to track energy use, community heat sources and charging points for electric cars
- smart, efficient, affordable homes taking their energy from the sun, wind and earth. Residents will be able to control the heat and ventilation of their homes at the touch of a button; and sell their surplus energy into the grid
- all homes located within ten minutes’ walk of frequent public transport and everyday neighbourhood services
- parks, playgrounds and gardens that will make up 40 per cent – two fifths – of the towns. Children will attend local zero carbon schools, making use of the paths and cycle ways
- zero carbon buildings including shops, restaurants and public buildings. Car journeys will 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 standards for energy efficiency, recycling, water efficiency and reduced pollution – saving a typical home £200-500 a year in energy bills.
The Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:
"Eco-towns will help to relieve the shortage of affordable homes to rent and buy and to minimise the effects of climate change on a major scale. They will provide modern homes with lower energy bills, energy efficient offices and brand new schools, community centres and services."
Rossington near Doncaster and North-East Elsenham in Essex are still developing proposals for their sites and these could draw on the £5m second wave funding and wider government support available. Across the country interest is still high and many local authorities are considering development plans.
New energy standards
Alongside the plans for eco-towns, Mr Healey announced tougher new energy standards for all new homes from 2016 to be zero carbon and launched a review to combine the government’s climate change and renewable energy planning policy statements.
With more than a quarter of Britain’s CO2 emissions produced from homes, the announcements are a major step towards meeting the government’s green policy pledges and Britain’s transition to a low carbon country.