Cancellation of Eco-towns policy is bad news for the green economy

A leading housing and planning charity has expressed disappointment at the Government’s decision to cancel the Eco-towns Planning Policy Statement (PPS).

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) said:

“The Eco-towns PPS set out an ambitious framework for truly sustainable low carbon places. 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. The cancellation of the policy marks the end of any benchmark for building the high quality communities of the future. Taken together with other measures to deregulate the English planning system we are seeing an end to innovation in the built environment.”

“For example, the recent changes to permitted development mean that office blocks and warehouses can be now converted to housing without the need for planning permission. 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 cancellation of the policy is also a marked contrast to other nations such as Germany who have created entirely new industries from building highly sustainable new places.”

While the Eco-towns PPS has been cancelled, local authorities across England still want to bring forward large-scale, high-quality inclusive communities. However, the challenge will be to ensure that quality, affordability and innovation is delivered at a time when the planning system is becoming increasingly weakened by deregulation.

Next week the Association will launch its Manifesto ‘Building the Future’ which highlights that planning is a positive force for good and proposes a range of measures to ensure planning is at the heart of the debate of future public policy.

The TCPA will also continue to work with councils to help them ensure that new large scale housing developments really do create sustainable new communities.

Kate Henderson added:

“The TCPA continues to work positively with the local authorities bringing forward the four original eco-town proposals as well as other councils delivering large-scale sustainable new communities. The New Communities Group, set up by the TCPA in 2009, helps council develop their proposals, embed ambitious sustainability standards and encourage a sharing of knowledge and best practice between the different sites. Together the group is providing innovative local leadership for plans delivering in the region of 65,000 homes.”