UK Housing Minister Caroline Flint set out the government's latest proposals for the UK's toughest ever green standards for new housing as she unveiled a progress report on eco-towns.
Underlining the UK government's determination that only the best quality schemes with very high sustainability standards should qualify for eco-town status, the standards being developed are set to include:
- Achieving zero-carbon status across all the town's buildings, including commercial and public buildings as well as homes - a significantly tougher threshold than any existing or agreed targets.
- Allocating 40% of land within the town to be green space, at least half of which should be open to the public as parks or recreation areas.
- Providing a minimum of 30% affordable housing to provide more homes for social rent and assist those struggling to get on the housing ladder.
- Creating more options for travel and reducing residents' reliance on the car to enable the majority of journeys to be made by sustainable transport, such as public transport, walking and cycling.
- Ensuring a minimum of one job per house can be reached by sustainable transport to reduce dependence on the car.
- Locating the average home within 10 minutes walk of frequent public transport and everyday neighbourhood services.
- Raising the threshold for individual homes so that they must all achieve at least level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, which includes standards for household waste recycling, construction waste, water efficiency measures and reduced pollution.
UK Housing Minister Caroline Flint said:
"These would be the toughest standards ever set out for new development and demonstrate that there will be no compromise on quality with eco-towns.
"We need to build more homes in this country, but given that housing contributes 27% of our carbon emissions we must also take this opportunity to trial new ways of tackling climate change. In both cases, doing nothing is not an option."
The progress report also clarifies how the planning process for eco-towns will work, making it clear that in each case a planning application will have to be submitted and that it will be for the local authority to consider that application. The eco-towns standards will also insist that proposed developments must comply with existing planning policy.
Following changes made to the short-listed schemes announced in April, including two new proposals for an eco-town in Rushcliffe and major changes made to the proposal at Rossington, a formal consultation on both these draft standards and a detailed sustainability appraisal of each location will now be published in September. A final decision on up to ten potential locations will be made in early 2009, after which the individual schemes will each have to submit planning applications.
Caroline Flint added:
"With a minimum of 30% affordable housing, eco-towns will provide homes for a generation who are currently facing difficulties - young families, singles and the elderly, who all deserve a good quality home. The UK needs more homes because people are living longer and more people are choosing to live alone."
"Eco-towns will meet part of our housing need by creating attractive, new communities with all the facilities that people look for when choosing a place to live."