HOUSING MINISTER IN ECO-TOWN TALKS WITH LUFF AND MAPLES
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If the Government go ahead with plans to build a controversial “eco-town” at Long Marston they will cause long-term – and serious – social, economic and environmental problems.
That was the message delivered by Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff yesterday (Wednesday) in a meeting with Housing Minister Margaret Beckett.

Peter and Stratford-upon-Avon MP John Maples, into whose constituency two-thirds of the proposed site falls, met Mrs Beckett, who is in charge of the “eco-town” project, to explain that the proposed location was totally inappropriate, including on environmental grounds because of the traffic it would inevitably generate. They also emphasised the social consequences of building much needed affordable homes in the wrong place.

Commenting Peter said,

“I agree that there is a need for more social and affordable housing in my constituency, and throughout South Worcestershire. However, no such housing need exists at or near the site of the proposed ‘eco-town’. The need in my own constituency is near Worcester City and closer to the main towns of Evesham and Droitwich Spa with significant local need “pepper-potted” in individual villages.

“The location of the proposed “eco-town” is all wrong. Thousands of people are just not clamouring to live there. Building affordable homes in the wrong place would mean that people will be ripped from their social networks and effectively forced to live in places they do not wish to

“There isn’t and there won’t be the wider transport infrastructure to cope with them, and there won’t be sufficient employment opportunities to support them. People will have to travel long distances to go to work, and the increase in traffic this will create will outweigh any environmental benefits of carbon-neutral homes as well as clogging up the very inadequate road network.

“If the Government is truly concerned about the environment, it should be focusing its attention on ensuring all major new housing developments on the edge of cities and towns, such as those proposed near Worcester, are carbon-neutral and environmentally friendly. There is huge potential for constructing successful “eco-suburbs”, in the places where people want to live.”

He concluded,

“The minister was in listening mode and gave no clue as to her intentions – but John and I feel we made a strong case. I just hope she was really listening.”


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