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Plans to build a so-called ‘eco-town’ at Long Marston have been dealt a “humiliating and perhaps deadly blow” according to Mid Worcestershire MP Peter Luff.

In a series of parliamentary questions he has asked the housing minister, Margaret Becket, urgently to examine the implications of these detailed studies. “Surely,” Peter said, “she will conclude it is now time to put local people out of their misery end stop all further work on the scheme.”

Peter was commenting after the publication of the last of four recent reports on different aspects of the proposal commissioned by the six relevant district and county councils of Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire. All of the reports concluded that the Long Marston site is unsuitable for an ‘eco-town’.

The four reports – carried out separately and by different, independent organisations – consist of a strategic transport assessment, a retail capacity assessment, a financial viability assessment and an economic evaluation of the proposal.

Peter explained,

“While all the reports are critical of the planned ‘eco-town’ the last two – Advantage West Midlands’ Economic Evaluation and CB Richard Ellis’ Financial Viability Assessment – are the most damaging.”

Advantage West Midlands’ Economic Evaluation of the Middle Quinton Eco-Town Proposal finds that the benefits of the proposal could be more effectively achieved elsewhere, in a location which is more closely tied to their own West Midlands Economic Strategy.

CB Richard Ellis’ Independent Viability Assessment of the proposal concludes: “The proposals, as they are currently set out, are not viable. Were these proposals taken forward and granted planning permission there is a risk that the public sector will have to provide any gap funding for the proposals…We estimate the Net Present Value of the Middle Quinton Eco-Town to be a negative with a £373 million deficit.”

Commenting Peter said:

“These four reports must surely be the killer blow for the Government’s mad-cap plans to build such a huge development in such a remote location. I am pleased that these reports officially back up what campaigners against the proposals have been saying all along – that the site simply cannot support development on this scale, and that the impact on the local economy will be devastating.

“They show that this town should not be built even in good economic times. Surely, in the middle of a serious recession, the Government shouldn’t be pressing ahead with a development which, the reports find, will not help local economies and a proposal we now know will need a tax-payer funded bail-out even before construction has begun!

“The local ‘eco-town’ project is fatally discredited. The Government should put its pride aside and do the decent thing by knocking the project on the head once and for all.”


Notes to editors:

The four reports are:

Middle Quinton Eco-Town Proposals: Independent Viability Assessment by CB Richard Ellis
Economic Evaluation of the Middle Quinton Eco-Town Proposal by Advantage West Midlands
Colliers CRE review of the Initial Retail Capacity Assessment
Middle Quinton Eco-Town: Review of Strategic Transport Assessment by Ove Arup & Partners

These reports were commissioned by the Joint Authorities Eco-Town Working Group, made up of the six local authorities of Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire.

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