Sunday, 13 May 2007

How Green is Brown's Eco Town

There's lots of local consternation about the spin put on Brown's EcoTowns in the weekend papers. Here and Here.

The first of these towns will be Northstowe - which just happens to be in my district council's area and the council has been working on this for four years so this is not a great new idea from Mr Brown. As I am a cabinet member on that council I will pick my words carefully.

First claim "homes will be zero-carbon". Its a lovely aspiration which everyone would like to achieve but actually the current plans are more like 10% energy from renewable sources. Zero carbon homes would be very expensive so Brown will need to follow this up with lots of money.

Next claim "These towns are to be built on brownfield sites". Northstowe will be built on land previously used by the MOD at Oakington. A small part of it has been built on before - but land used by the MOD as the green spaces around aeroplane landing strips is also defined as "brown-field".

Next claim "combining the environment with housing" and "They will take as their model Poundbury, the village created in 1993 by the Prince of Wales in Cornwall. " - I've been to Poundbury (actually it's in Dorset). I was impressed. There is lots of open space. Northstowe was initally meant to be 8,000 homes. At 10,000 homes there will be far higher densities of housing than Poundbury. Plans for open spaces, a country park and undeveloped countryside "green seperation" between the town and the existing villages could all be much more difficult to fit in.

Another claim "The towns will have new road and rail links and will include zero-carbon schools and health centres." Actually the main road to Northstowe comes off the notorious A14 at its most congested stretch. Work to improve the A14 will not even start until AFTER the first residents have moved in. There are no rail links as such planned but a guided bus way will take people down the old railway line and then join buses on Cambridge's streets. Yes it will have a health centre but the local hospital, Hinchingbrooke, faces a deficit of £49 million and is currently undergoing public consultation about how to strip £14 million from "costs"...........

We do need affordable housing, housing for young people, for young people to be able to get on the property ladder. Cambridge house prices been showing some of the biggest hikes in the country. We want these houses to be as eco friendly as possible. I also want local people to still have a say on planning. As a councillor I know that to get this we have to work with the government. If Mr Brown is to make this his personal "flagship" he is going to have to address some of these concerns.


QUASAR9 said...

Vicky, I thought you gals at the County Council were all for G-Bus

to take people from Northstowe to Addenbrookes

QUASAR9 said...

Vicky, I thought you and your pals at the County Council were all for Northstowe

You know 'affordable' homes
starting at £180,000 for a one bedroom flat dor
key workers (nurses & policemen)
in shared ownership schemes with Housing Associations which are the 'real' beneficiaries of the 40% discount demanded from builders and developers, and who are the real beneficiaries of the 40% subsidies from the Housing Corporation thru City & District Councils 'affordable' housing schemes.

QUASAR9 said...

If we need to subsidise homes for those earning £20-30,000
If only those earning £30,000 plus (and double income homes) are able to buy 'affordable' homes.

Have we not distorted the meaning of the word 'affordable'

Where are those on lower incomes, on part time or casual work, the temporarily employed & unemployed meant to live in the future ...
In the Gaza Strip?
With no future

Anonymous said...

Quasar9, I'm sure Vicky Ford will tell you this herself, but she's not a member of Cambridgeshire County Council. She is a South Cambridgeshire District Councillor.

Vicky Ford said...

Thanks for this - we do need to look at the definition of "affordable" - not just social housing, not just key worker housing but also first homes for those in their twenties and thirties who would love to be able to buy a house but cant afford to.

Richard Havers said...

First green was the new black and now Brown is the new green. For a while I thought Brown was the new yellow. Where wil it all end?

Anonymous said...

And now Tories are supposed to be green ( cos Cameron goes to work on his Tebbitt machine - followed by his paperwork in a limo ! )
At the same time it was Shona Johnson who pushed the ridiculous Guided Bus through for the Tories at the County Council (who would like to guess how much that stupidity ends up costing us all )meanwhile at SCDC Prescott and Co plans to force possibly now up to 20 thousand new homes/boxes at Northstowe gets not a sign of anger from the new super dooper "in control " Tories.
All you lot can say is " how your disappointed at his decisions ! "
Plus of course your now going to try and convince your own council house tenants to sign up to giving away their homes to a housing asociation.
Tories rule - is it so OK ?