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Eco-towns decision: Good transport necessary

16 July 2009
Campaign for Better Transport today welcomed the new eco-towns planning policy [1] but warned that the planned eco-towns must have good public transport and not be designed around new roads.

Reacting to the planning policy, Executive Director Stephen Joseph said:

"The Government is right to promote new sustainable housing development but whether these eco-town will be sustainable is down to the detail on transport provision. If built around major new roads – as the local council wants the Rackheath scheme  to be – and without good public transport, local services, car-free areas and convenient cycling routes at their heart, these schemes will not deserve the eco-towns brand. It should be possible for people to live in these places without having to own a car."

We were pleased to see that our call for the eco-town principles to be extended to "eco-quarters" within existing towns seems to have been heeded and the most unpopular locations have been rejected. New developments within existing urban areas will often be easier to serve by public transport than stand-alone eco-towns, and eco-quarters could also set a wider example to be followed. 

Stephen Joseph continued: "We’d like to see some sustainable travel pilots with new developments to show that it’s possible to build and sell/let new housing centred round good public transport and car-free areas, with good local services and employment so as to reduce the need to travel, and without plentiful parking."

Notes to editors
[1] On 16 July, the Government published an eco-towns planning policy and announced the location of four eco-towns:


  • Northwest Bicester: We welcome this, but a Bicester eco-quarter will be challenging and will need good links to the rail station
  • Rackheath, Norfolk: Potentially OK as an eco-town/eco-quarter, served by rail (and with railfreight potential too), but is being linked by the county council with a new road. With this road, it would be utterly unsustainable; without it, it might work
  • China Clay community scheme near St Austell, Cornwall: Sustainability in transport terms depends on detailed design and location
  • Whitehill Bordon, Hampshire: While not on a railway, it could easily be and there should be a feasibility study on reopening the rail line as part of a new eco-town