The list of 15 towns of between 5,000 and 20,000 homes has come from 57 originally submitted and will be further reduced to 10 that are to be in progress by 2020. The towns, the first new ones in England since the 1960’s, are to be zero-carbon, water neutral and car-curbing. All the developments, which will now be subject to public consultation, will provide between 30% and 50% affordable homes, for social rent or shared ownership designed to promote affordability.
The government claims it has turned down proposals built on green belt land and those it believed were previously existing schemes already refused by planners. However the towns have met fierce opposition. The Campaign to Protect Rural England questioned whether green field sites were being protected. Planning officer Kate Gordon was quoted in the Guardian as saying: "There are a number of locations that involve the loss of greenfield land, agricultural land and would damage attractive landscapes."
Most of the protesters however are local. Dr Kevin Feltham, a local councillor from Leicester, said: "The effect on the surrounding area will be an extra 30,000 to 40,000 cars a day.” The new town of Middle Quinton, currently known as Long Marston, near Stratford upon Avon, has been called unnecessary. Izzi Seccombe, a Warwickshire country councillor, said: "It would put unsustainable pressure on Stratford's transport, infrastructure and local services."
The full shortlist:
* Pennbury, Leicestershire
* Manby and Strubby, Lincolnshire
* Curborough, Staffordshire
* Middle Quinton, Warwickshire
* Bordon-Whitehill, Hampshire
* Weston Otmoor, Oxfordshire
* Ford, West Sussex
* Imerys China Clay Community, Cornwall
* Rossington, South Yorkshire
* Coltishall, Norfolk
* Hanley Grange, Cambridgeshire
* Marston Vale and New Marston, Bedfordshire
* Elsenham, Essex
* Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire
* Leeds City Region, Yorkshire
This article first appeared in the Ecologist April 2008