Brown's boost for green town

RICHARD BATSON Campaigners behind a £9bn eco-town vision for a former Norfolk airbase were given a boost after the prime minister doubled his target number for environmentally-friendly communities.

RICHARD BATSON

Campaigners behind a £9bn eco-town vision for a former Norfolk airbase were given a boost after the prime minister doubled his target number for environmentally-friendly communities.

Gordon Brown told the Labour party conference he was upping the number of planned eco-towns from five to 10 because of the large number of people interested in taking the plans forward.

It improves the odds for the scheme to put 10,000 homes, 2,000 jobs, a new broad, education and leisure facilities on the former RAF Coltishall site.

The ambitious scheme by Norfolk developer Richard Davies still has hurdles to leap, including planning and improvements to transport links, but has been welcomed by the UEA-based CRed carbon reduction project.

Mr Davies gave a cautious welcome to Mr Brown's words. He said: “This should increase our chance of putting forward our scheme but of course one has to temper that with the reality that it still could become an asylum-seekers' refuge. It is down to government mandarins to decide what happens to it. We are hoping to put forward our application in October.”

Most Read

CRed's Dr Bruce Tofield gave the latest political announcement a guarded welcome, saying: “It is good news in principle.

“But we have seen all kinds of promises at party conferences which fail to see the light of day.”

Environmentally-friendly building did not have to be confined to eco-towns. It could be done smaller scale in other places.

“We would like to see eco-construction right here, right now,” said Dr Tofield.

“I am not knocking this announcement. But it is all very well for Mr Brown to make statements on the platform. We want to see some action.”

The Coltishall scheme includes waterside executive homes along the line of the old runway, which would become a virtual island set in the new broad, along with affordable homes, a business and technology park, hotel and spa, wind turbines, and water-cleansing reedbeds. The old wartime control tower would be retained and a museum, named after Battle of Britain ace Douglas Bader, created to highlight the station's illustrious history.

Mr Brown said his doubling of eco-town plans was spurred by the positive reaction to his ideas to build communities of up to 100,000 green homes across the nation.

With a month to go until the deadline there have been about 30 expressions of interest from councils and developers.

The prime minister's move was part of proposals to boost house-building to 240,000 a year.

He told delegates: “For the first time in nearly half a century we will show the imagination to build new towns - eco-towns with low and zero-carbon homes.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter