Friday, June 20, 2008

Guest Post: Beware the Eco-Town

I've been planning to write about eco-towns for a while now due to the proximity of a threatened development to Cambridge. However,I've not known enough about it, nor had the time to investigate - so I've been bailed out of that hole by Serena who has sent me the following:

There are plans for a so called “eco-town” of 8-11,000 houses (a town the size of Ely) which will be planned, designed, built and financed 100% by Tesco to be built just South of Cambridge on a greenfield site.

"Eco-towns" are New Labour spin at its most cynical. Labour have abandoned their commitment to important sustainability criteria in order to build 3 million new houses by 2020. Legislation passed on "Eco-towns" allows the government to bypass local planning procedures, whereby councils and local residents can vet the feasibility of a proposed development. This process can take years, which is why the government wants to bypass them. By making these towns "Eco-towns" Gordon Brown can increase house numbers without taking local concerns into account. An almost identical proposal called “Hinxton Grange” for the same site was rejected a number of years ago and is only now being considered following the re-branding as an “eco-town”.

The houses provided are in excess of government figures on the need for housing in the area, so really only Tesco stands to benefit. There is limited local employment, and the biotech firms based in the area, when questioned have actually stated that the development would hinder their work and in some cases may cause them to leave the area or even the country (please see this link for more details).


The site is a Greenfield site, and located on an aquifer which supplies 5% of the water used by the surrounding areas (in, of course, one of the driest areas of the UK). When asked if they can guarantee whether the water supply will be polluted or damaged in any way, the developers reply “we are looking into it”.

Hanley Grange is close to a number of major roads and the M11. This would encourage car dependency. In addition the A505 and the M11 is already severely congested at rush hours. There are also concerns about the impact of at least 8,000 more cars on the already crowded A1301 and A1307 and concerns about the quiet streets of surrounding villages being turned into rat-runs. Bus and car travel to and from Cambridge from the villages in and around the Hanley Grange site already suffers from severe peak time delays through bottlenecks. Hanley Grange would only compound the problem.

There is further information on the facegroup site. I would be really grateful if you all could spare the time just to make yourselves aware of what is being proposed and join the campaign. Public consultation ends in one week, so time is running out to make ourselves heard!

So what can you do? There are two online petitions to sign. Please go to:

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/stophanleygrange/
http://www.stophanleygrange.org.uk/petitions/1/sign-new.html

And please send an email registering your opposition to Hanley Grange to:
ecotowns@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Contact InfoWebsite:
http://www.stophanleygrange.org.uk/

4 comments:

Rob said...

Hi Jim, mind if I nab this for Freedom's blog bites column?

Jim Jay said...

No probs - whats mine is yours.

Freedom said...

Ta dude :)

John W. Whitworth said...

The Weston Otmoor proposal near Oxford includes punitive road charging (£200 per vehicle at peak time) to compel residents to use public transport. The shift in travel behaviour required to make the project viable is equivalent to asking half the population of a medium sized town to stop using their cars at a stroke.