Council leader angered by eco-town U-turn’
NORTHSTOWE, the 9,500-home new town planned for the former Oakington airfield site, will not after all be an eco-town . In the run-up to his taking over as Prime Minister in the summer, Gordon Brown indicated that it would be one of the first five fully
NORTHSTOWE, the 9,500-home new town planned for the former Oakington airfield site, will not after all be an "eco-town".
In the run-up to his taking over as Prime Minister in the summer, Gordon Brown indicated that it would be one of the first five fully sustainable settlements in the country.
But now, less than six months later, council chiefs have received a letter from Housing Minister Yvette Cooper saying that Northstowe cannot be an eco-town. This means the county will miss out on additional possible funding to underpin development of the project.
The Minister explained that, as Northstowe is adopted into existing plans, it can be no more than a prototype for eco-towns.
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Cambridgeshire County Council leader Shona Johnstone reacted angrily to the news.
"This is very disappointing. On the one hand Government uses Cambridgeshire to grab headlines announcing their new plans but then don't turn them into a reality. Government wants us to take these thousands of new homes but then does not give any clear indication on funding. We are not even clear on what exactly being a prototype means and what the Government expects Northstowe to be.
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"In any case, Northstowe has always been planned by the local authorities as a greener and sustainable development. The positive news is that the Minister is prepared to look at additional funding, as there is no doubt that Northstowe, and indeed Cambridgeshire, needs more.
"We will work with our partners, through Cambridgeshire Horizons, to make the case to Government, with the aim to create truly sustainable communities with a low carbon footprint."
Sir David Trippier, chairman of Cambridgeshire Horizons, the company set up to deliver infrastructure for nearly 50,000 new homes in the sub-region, said: "There was enormous confusion over this matter when Gordon Brown made his announcement.
"I fully accept that even if we had been granted eco-town status it would have resulted in considerable planning delays. Therefore we can now move on as quickly as possible with the planning application due to go to South Cambridgeshire District Council in December.
"I do welcome the commitment there will be extra funding for Northstowe, notwithstanding."
A spokesman for developers Gallagher Estates confirmed the December date for the first planning application but would not comment further.