GOVERNMENT MUST ACCEPT ECO-TOWN DEFEAT SAYS LUFF
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GOVERNMENT MUST ACCEPT ECO-TOWN DEFEAT SAYS LUFF

The so-called “eco-town” planned for Long Marston, in both Wychavon and Stratford-upon-Avon district council areas, “has been dealt a fatal blow” says local MP Peter Luff as the independent inspectors charged with examining the scheme come down firmly against it.

Peter Luff, MP for Mid Worcestershire, and John Maples, MP for Stratford-upon-Avon , whose constituencies would have been home to the “eco-town”, together with neighbouring MP for Cotswold, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, had strongly supported local campaigners in the BARD action group and made their own submission to the inspectors.

The inspectors were conducting the Examination in Public (EiP) of the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy, and the “eco-town” proposal had been included in the process. Their report was published yesterday (Monday).

Commenting, Peter said,

“We said it wasn’t sustainable – and the inspectors agree. We said the new houses we agree are needed would be better located elsewhere, such as small developments in villages, and the inspectors agree. We said the transport arrangements just wouldn’t work, and the inspectors agree. We said it wasn’t true brownfield land, and the inspectors agree.

“What a tragedy for local people that their lives have been blighted by having to fight this mad-cap proposal. And what a tragedy that the government has wasted so many millions of our money pursuing this ludicrous fantasy in the face of all the facts.

“Surely, now, the nightmare is at an end – and we can return to a sensible debate about how to protect our environment while providing the hoe s we needs for local people.”

ENDS

Note to editors:

The full report is available at :

http://www.gos.gov.uk/497745/docs/260727/285505/wmrssphase2panelreport


BARD campaigned on the following themes:

1. BARD said: Middle Quinton would be unsustainable and therefore could not merit an ‘eco-prefix

The EiP Panel Report said:
“Our provisional conclusion is that …. the location of this proposed Eco-town would render it of very doubtful sustainability.”
“as the housing would be delivered at or after 2016, this means that the advantages in terms of green construction would not be greater than those that will be deliverable in any new settlement or urban extension. All will be required to be eco-suburbs or developments by that time under the Government’s timetable for achieving the more sustainable homes, zero carbon development being required by 2016.”

2. BARD said: there are preferable alternatives to new settlements such as urban extensions and small-scale development across the District

The EiP Panel Report said:
“On the principle of considering new settlements having a role in the West Midlands RSS, we have already concluded in Chapter 2, that consistent with PPS3, new settlements should not be ruled out of consideration, but should only form part of the spatial distribution if they can be demonstrated to be as least as sustainable as alternative development patterns such as urban extensions”

3. BARD said: Long Marston was simply the wrong location for such a huge new development

The EiP Panel Report said:
“Middle Quinton would be the second largest settlement in the district on completion of the full scheme proposed”
“We accept that it could still be proven to be the best long-term option for increasing the supply of development land, but it would need proper testing against other development options for the District”
“Suffice it to say here that we were not convinced that Middle Quinton would represent a particularly sustainable solution towards meeting the very evident housing needs in the southern part of Stratford-on-Avon District.”

4. BARD said: The Promoters’ estimates of home-workers are overly optimistic; there’s no guarantee on-site jobs would be taken by eco-town residents; there is woefully insufficient transport infrastructure; the town would be poorly linked to towns and cities and would experience high levels of car-dependency

The EiP Panel Report said:
“Much turns on the realism of the assumptions of the volume of home-working that would take place in any Eco-town/new settlement and the degree to which the proposed new on-site employment would be taken-up by on-site residents. While the former assumptions may not be unreasonable, AWM expressed scepticism here, as elsewhere in the region, over attempts to secure exact matching of housing and workplaces over the long-term. Substantial two way commuting flows were therefore considered inevitable”

5. BARD said: A new passenger heavy railway along the Greenway is unfeasible and the alternatively proposed guided-bus link would require public funding

The EiP Panel Report said:
“The feasibility of re-opening the route to through rail passenger traffic appears extremely doubtful and Network Rail confirmed that they had no aspiration to achieve such a link.”
“The current approach is therefore to promote the concept of a guided busway along the route of the former line to Stratford and its station. ….What is of more concern are the prospects for such a link being viable in the long-term without public subsidy. Although Middle Quinton would be the second largest settlement in the district on completion of the full scheme proposed, and even if the promoters met all costs during the development phase and some period thereafter, doubts were expressed about whether the number of households that would be served would generate viability for such a service. …. The potential problem would be likely to be greater with the scaled-back 2,500 dwelling new settlement concept. “

6. BARD said: Long Marston cannot simply be described as a “brownfield” site
The EiP Panel Report said:
“.... as at Middle Quinton the PDL (previously developed land) does not appear particularly “brown””


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