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Councils unhappy with eco-town plans

Council representatives have expressed concern about the government's plans to approve the creation of ten eco-towns.

A legal statement from the Local Government Association says the approach to eco-towns taken by the government is "deeply flawed".

It comes as the Department for Communities and Local Government prepares to publish a planning policy statement outlining guidance on how the eco-towns should be constructed.

LGA chairman Sir Simon Milton said: "While we are in favour of tackling the housing crisis by building thousands of extra homes, some of them in developments with the highest environmental standards, we don't think this is the right way to do it."

The government announced the first 15 locations shortlisted to become eco-towns in April this year. From these the final ten locations are expected to be confirmed by the time parliament returns from its long summer recess in October.

Critics had argued the proposed eco-towns in fact threatened the environment, being built on greenbelt land, posing a risk to wildlife or overturning previous planning decisions.

A joint opinion published today by John Steel QC and James Strachan says there are "sound grounds" for seeking judicial review of the government's approach to delivering eco-towns, however.

"This conflict is all the more acute because the concept of an eco-town does not appear to be materially different from the concept of providing housing in new settlements in an environmentally sustainable way," they say.

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