Government draws bids for eco-towns

The government has received more than 50 applications bidding for eco-towns across England, it has revealed.

A DCLG spokeswoman said there have been expressions of interest from all regions but could not give any details on locations. Government officials and related agencies will scrutinise the schemes to draw up a shortlist of ten proposals.

Housing minister Yvette Cooper told September's Labour Party conference that the eco-towns would not be limited to the south of England. Preferred bids will be announced in the new year.

Rutland Group, the owner of the former Dunsfold Park aerodrome near Guildford is one bidder, despite its proposal offering fewer than the minimum 5,000 homes.

Rutland chief executive Jim McAllister said he hopes that sustainability plans in its 2,600-home scheme will win the government over.

These include a combined heat and power plant, a process converting household waste into fuel, 100 per cent water harvesting and recycling, electric cars and buses and 2,000 on-site jobs.

A planning application is expected to be submitted before the end of this year. "We want Dunsfold Park to be the most sustainable, greenest development in the UK. We would like it to demonstrate a way forward for future home building," McAllister said.

Last week English Partnerships chairwoman Margaret Ford said smaller schemes on the edge of existing towns should be considered for eco-town status (Planning, 2 November, p1).

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