Govt report reveals public concerns about UK eco towns

The UK's new eco towns, four of which have been formally approved, may not be the best way to provide sustainable new housing, according to a new report.

There is also a concern that they are by-passing the planning system, says a report from consultants Scott Wilson which gathers the responses of 1,200 people and organisations to the government's flagship plans.

Overall the report says that people recognise the need for both more sustainable communities and of the need for more housing. But they do wonder if creating eco towns is the best way to achieve sustainable goals and point out that spending money on existing housing needs greater thought.

A second major concern is that they will be waved through the planning system. 'There was also concern that eco-town developments might detract from local planning and regeneration objectives,' the report says.

The public also raised concerns over locations chosen for eco towns and raised questions about local needs, waste management and environmental issues. Transportation emissions were of particular concern about developments that are supposed to be zero carbon.

The Communities Department, which commissioned the report, said it would take the concerns into account but insisted that eco towns will not bypass existing planning rules. It also said that the ddevelopers of the first wave of ecotowns will be obliged to have closer ties with existing communities

Guidance notes for developers state that any programme of development (PoD) prepared by each ecotown should include 'consideration of projects which would enable the existing community to better prepare for ecotown development.'

A consultation process with developers is currently underway and due to end on September 25.