5 Feb 2008

The Eco Town Gold Rush

The eco town story looks like its about to hot up once more. Apparently the government is about to announce its shortlist of approved sites but if my local town, Cambridge, is anything to go by, they will already be swamped with applications for new settlements. And almost all of them are recycled! How green is that?

The Cambridge region already has plans afoot for 25,000 new homes. It may well be more. The Cambridge Evening News reports the figure at 47,500. It may be that they are including areas further away or it maybe that someone somewhere has done the maths wrong. All we know is that we are about to be hit by a tsunami of new housebuilding. You might argue that with all this new development going on, no one will even notice another 10,000 home eco town, and this may well be the case. But the green light which Gordon Brown gave to eco towns last year has caused every two-bit scheme ever thought of to come crawling back out of the woodwork.

Around Cambridge we have (1) Mereham, near Ely, (2) Hanley Grange to the south of Cambridge, (3) Six Mile Bottom (to the east), (4) Alconbury (near Huntingdon) and (5) Denny St Francis, just north of Cambridge and in fact very close to (1) Mereham. Maybe we could have a double one: (1 + 5) Mereham-cum-Denny St Francis. All these have been touted as new settlements over the years and they are all back, this time badged as eco-towns. Code Level 6? No problem, sir, just give us the go ahead and we’ll build to Code Level 7. Which is apparently where Bill Dunster is now heading. How competitive is that?

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