Eco-towns to echo ‘garden cities’

Parks and open spaces will form the heart of five new eco-towns announced in last week’s housing Green Paper, which draws inspiration from Edwardian garden cities.

The Government said zero-carbon towns of between 5,000 and 20,000 homes would “draw on the best practice” of places such as 1903’s Letchworth, the first garden city, with tree-lined roads and ample parks. Homes for the Future proposed £8bn of reforms, and said town masterplans would embrace “the wider landscape and urban form”. International competitions and government “design tests” would ensure good quality. All new homes will be carbon neutral and incorporate sustainable urban drainage, although flood plains will still be built on. Councils and developers will bid for cash. Sites have not been finalised but “exemplars” include Northstowe in Cambridgeshire. Friends of the Earth housing campaigner Paul de Zylva, said: “New developments must be -sustainable, with clear plans for water supply, waste disposal and flood protection.” Wildlife Trusts chief executive Stephanie Hilborne said housing should avoid flood plains, adding that landscapes such as wetlands needed protection. But housing minister Yvette Cooper said: “We will retain robust protection of the greenbelt and ensure tough planning rules on building in flood-risk areas. We will encourage imaginative proposals to create additional green infrastructure.” The deadline for consultation on the proposals is 15 October and building dates for the eco-towns have not been set.

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