Odds stack up against eco-town

The odds are stacking up against controversial proposals to build a new eco-town of up to 10,000 homes at the former RAF Coltishall airbase.On Tuesday the Local Government Association (LGA) announced that barristers working on its behalf had concluded that there would be “sound grounds” for councils to seek a judicial review of the Government's approach to building new sustainable developments.

The odds are stacking up against controversial proposals to build a new eco-town of up to 10,000 homes at the former RAF Coltishall airbase.

On Tuesday the Local Government Association (LGA) announced that barristers working on its behalf had concluded that there would be “sound grounds” for councils to seek a judicial review of the Government's approach to building new sustainable developments.

The news followed speculation over the weekend that civil servants had advised the government to slash the number of proposed eco-town sites from 10 to just two or three “exemplar” developments amid concerns that most sites did not meet up to exacting green standards.

On top of this it was revealed on Friday that housing minister Caroline Flint had shown an interest in seeing a green development on the edge of the Norwich after being persuaded of the case by members of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP).


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The partnership is now drawing up solid proposals but the move was immediately combated by RAF Coltishall developer Richard Davies who said he was looking at the possibly moving his proposed development from the 630-acre site at Scottow closer to Norwich, possibly Rackheath.

The government's eco-town strategy is one of its flagship policies. Soon after he became prime minister, Gordon Brown announced he wanted to see 100,000 sustainable homes built on 10 sites across the country by 2020.

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A shortlist of 15 possible locations - including the one at Scottow - was drawn up earlier this year.

Since then, three developers have withdrawn and uncertainty hangs over a fourth site near Leeds.

Campaigners, who have long argued that Coltishall is not the right place for an environmentally sustainable development that could up to twice the size of North Walsham, are now hoping that the latest developments could be some of the final nails in the coffin for the plan.

Glynn Williams, from the Coltishall Eco-town Action Group (Cetag), said: “The whole concept is flawed, and perhaps the government is realising that Coltishall is just the wrong site for this many eco-homes. Hopefully, Coltishall will now come off the shortlist and they will have a proper look at building eco-homes in Norfolk. The chances are they will be on the periphery of places like Norwich.”

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said he felt there was an air of inevitability in what was happening.

He said: “If the government is doing this properly and it is a robust process to determine which, if any, of them go forward, then excluding most of the sites is inevitable, particularly Coltishall.”

But even though Mr Davies' plans for an eco-town for Scottow look increasingly under pressure he is showing no signs of giving up his battle to develop a large green build in Norfolk.

He said: “There is an alternative site which fits our proposal exactly.

“We are in negotiation with the landowners and we feel this is a good choice, if not better than Coltishall.

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