Opinion divided over eco-town
OPINION on the new eco-town to be built on the outskirts of Norwich remained mixed last night with most people seeking answers about how it will work.As the dust settles on the government's decision on Thursday to go ahead with a scaled-down version of four eco-towns, including the Rackheath development, many interested parties are looking ahead to the finer detail, including funding.
OPINION on the new eco-town to be built on the outskirts of Norwich remained mixed last night with most people seeking answers about how it will work.
As the dust settles on the government's decision on Thursday to go ahead with a scaled-down version of four eco-towns, including the Rackheath development, many interested parties are looking ahead to the finer detail, including funding.
Prime minister Gordon Brown congratulated people in the area for seizing the “chance to be at the forefront of Britain's green revolution”.
But not everyone entirely welcomed the announcement. Along with local campaigners, rural champions the Campaign to Protect Rural England called for tougher standards.
Kate Gordon, senior planning officer, said: “The eco-towns programme should not distract from the urgent need to bring back into use empty homes, regenerate urban areas and apply high standards to all development, new and existing.”
Sandra Eastaugh, manager of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership, called on the government to put more funding behind the scheme.
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“The Rackheath plans we put forward have met the government's tough standards thanks to work across the three districts to ensure that housing and employment growth is well managed.
“We're delighted that we will now be able to bid for a share of the �60m local infrastructure fund. All new development in the greater Norwich area is dependant on significant infrastructure improvements, particularly the Norwich Northern Distributor Road - an integral part of our plans to improve the local public transport network and reduce reliance on the private car.
“The case for supporting the scheme is currently being considered by the Department for Transport.”
But campaigners against the Norwich northern bypass (NDR) believe the idea of an eco-town relying on a new road being built makes it unsustainable.
Denise Carlo, spokesman for the Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group, said: “Building a brand-new dual carriageway for serving Rackheath is unlikely to achieve the government's target for 50pc of journeys in eco-towns to be made by non-car transport.
“Norfolk County Council must drop its plans for a partial third Norwich ring road and bring forward designs for a major public transport scheme. Otherwise the result will be a car-town and not an eco-town.”
Stephen Joseph, executive director of the Campaign for Better Transport, welcomed the new eco-towns planning policy but also warned that the planned eco-towns must have good public transport and not be designed around new roads.
He said: “If built around major new roads - as the local council wants the Rackheath scheme to be - and without good public transport, local services, car-free areas and convenient cycling routes at their heart, these schemes will not deserve the eco-towns brand.”
The government is still considering the new road proposals but the next step for the Rackheath development is to seek planning permission.