The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has questioned the long-term sustainability of the Government‘s eco-towns. Housing minister John Healey is expected to make an announcement about which eco-communities will get the go-ahead on Thursday, despite some of the rumoured shortlisted schemes encountering strong local opposition.

The CPRE has pointed out that the proposed schemes’ poor location and inadequate transport will lead to residents being car dependent or having to travel to other settlements for work and services.

The organisation offers support for providing environmentally sensitive and affordable housing, but believes that there are better alternatives, such as bringing back into use England’s 800,000 empty homes or redeveloping derelict brownfield land.

The requirement of eco-towns to be freestanding new settlements could also create a bias in favour of new towns over redevelopment of current towns or raising environmental standards in existing property.

Kate Gordon, CPRE senior planning officer, said: ‘We are urging the Government to scale back the eco-towns programme to one or two exemplary examples. For eco-towns to be truly sustainable, they must be built and planned in the right way. We urge Ministers to look to practical alternatives for providing homes and tackling climate change.’

The CPRE has also expressed concerns about the Government’s plan to publicly announce its preferred eco-town locations. The announcement could be seen as a challenge to the plan-led system, as it would come before any planning applications are brought forward.

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