Monday, May 14, 2007

Brown towns

Big Gordon puts sustainable regional development at the centre of his policy menu (presumably designed to help distance him from the less popular aspects of Blairism), with proposals for five new 'eco-towns' to be built on brownfield sites around the country.

It's a headline-grabbing initiative, combining leftish/green sustainability with property-owning rhetoric for Middle England. There's no doubt that more new homes are needed, and brownfield redevelopment is the only way to go, but one wonders if the initiative will include anything that wouldn't be happening anyway.

The first (and so far only) named site is an ex-MoD base at Oakington in Cambridgeshire, which was bought by English Partnerships for a 'sustainable' 10,000-home development last year. I'd be surprised if none of the schemes in the former South Yorkshire coalfields aren't swiftly adapted to join the programme, if it happens - maybe the housing development alongside the Advanced Manufacturing Park on the 750-acre Waverley site on the Sheffield/Rotherham borders, again headed by English Partnerships.

Might even consider moving for that. It'd make the dear lady wife's commute a lot shorter and, if the concept does catch on, there's surely a book to be written about the development of and life in a shiny green Brown town.

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