Britain gives green light to four new "eco-towns"

Thu Jul 16, 2009 7:26am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britain gave the green light on Thursday to four new towns that will provide 10,000 homes built to strict environmental standards by 2016.

The four sites chosen, all in southern or eastern England, are: Whitehill-Borden in Hampshire, China Clay Community at St Austell in Cornwall, Rackheath in Norfolk and North West Bicester in Oxfordshire.

The so-called "eco-towns" still need planning approval and could face opposition from local groups who fear the developments will blight rural areas.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England had urged the government to scale back the program to just one or two "exemplary schemes."

It said the government should concentrate on refurbishing existing properties, redeveloping derelict brownfield sites and helping bring back into use 800,000 empty homes in England.

Gordon Brown announced his plan to build up to 100,000 homes in five eco-towns shortly after succeeding Tony Blair as prime minister in 2007.

The government whittled 57 applications from local authorities down to a shortlist of 15 in April last year.

The new towns are designed to tackle Britain's housing shortage while minimizing damage to the environment.

Homes will be energy efficient, streets will have charging points for electric cars and children will be able to walk or cycle to the local schools.   Continued...