Kate Henderson, chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), said the decision to cancel the guidance, which said settlements should aim to be zero carbon with homes that meet Building for Life, Code for Sustainable Homes and Lifetime Homes standards, “marks the end of any benchmark for building the high quality communities of the future.”
She said: “The eco-towns standards kept alive aspirations for well-planned housing growth which promoted people’s well-being while enhancing and protecting the natural environment. Taken together with other measures to deregulate the English planning system we are seeing an end to innovation in the built environment.”
The TCPA, which helped the previous government draw up the cancelled guidance, said the relaxation of rules to allow developers to turn offices into homes without receiving planning consent was part of the same trend. Henderson said: “This means that local authorities can no longer ensure that the homes are affordable or energy efficient, or secure decent play spaces, green infrastructure, or contributions to education provision.”
The planning guidance had also sought to ensure that fewer than 50% of journeys in new settlements were taken in cars. The cancellation follows the Coalition receiving legal advice that the move is unlikely, by itself, to have significant environmental effects, and so a full Strategic Environmental Assessment is not required.
Cancelling the policy, housing minister Brandon Lewis said: “Despite a pledge of 10 new towns by the last government, the eco-towns programme built nothing but resentment. [two are being built disengenous] The initiative was a total shambles, with developers abandoning the process, application for judicial review, the timetable being extended over and over, and local opposition to the unsustainable and environmentally damaging proposals. [just like teh NPPF then Brandon]”
However all Four out of the 10 Ecotowns shortlist to survive in 2009 are being built – Bourdon and Bicseter, St Austell and at Rackheath, and the Middle Quinton projects looks likely to be backed by the inspector at Stratford EIP by all accounts against the rather silly alternative on the M40 backed by the LPA. In addition Elsenham in Essex was backed by the LPA despite never making the shortlist but was not favoured by the EIP inspector (for odd reasons I must say). Four out of 10 isnt bad for any Central Housing initiative despite the incompetent sledge hammer way Brown tried to plough them through. Everyone can see the ‘built nothing’ claim is a flat out porkie pie.
In addition Pickles has luanched a new ‘ecotown’ at Ebbsfleet and relaunch Bicster. Ecotowns was just a way of rebranding Garden Cities by the TCPA anyway so dont be too upset.
As for the guidance Building for Life, Code for Sustainable Homes and Lifetime Homes standards have all been scrapped. So it pretty much abolished itself. You can claim that the replacement s weak and higher standards should apply in Garden Cities especially. but dont flog a dead horse Kate.