Michael Fabricant, and other Members of Parliament, has received a
letter today from Caroline Flint, Minister for Housing and Planning,
(reproduced below) regarding the forthcoming announcement of 15
potential locations for eco towns. It is probable that Curborough will
be one of them.
Michael says: "I oppose the location of a large eco town in Curborough
which will, in effect, join Lichfield to Fradley in one continuous urban
sprawl. The infrastructure for an eco town in Curborough is totally
inadequate and will cause even greater congestion along the A38 and
adjoining roads. We have neither the schools nor the hospitals to cope.
Moreover it should not be for central government and regional bodies in
Birmingham to override decisions made by our own local council. It
should be up to local authorities with locally elected councillors who
understand their areas to make these major decisions.
"I am uneasy about Government plans for ‘consultation’. In the past
this has simply been an exercise whereby the Government has steam
rollered through their decisions.
"Ministers know my objection to the Curborough location for the eco-town
and I will now be watching carefully to see if it is included in the
list of 15 towns. I deplore the secrecy by which this whole issue has
been handled. The Government has refused to list the locations of the
57 bids though we know Curborough to be one of them. And we still don’t
know precisely when the 15 locations will be announced."
The letter from Caroline Flint MP now follows:-
I shortly will be announcing the list of 15 potential locations for
eco-towns , drawn from the 57 bids we received last October, following
our invitation for expressions of interest. I wanted to set out to all
Honourable Members and to local authorities who have bids in, or close
to their constituencies and areas, what the process will be moving
forward between now and the Autumn. I would also like to be absolutely
clear with you that in the next stage, we will be inviting full public
consultation and there will be every opportunity to take part in the
As I have stressed before, only locations with the potential to meet our
challenging criteria will be considered by the Government to be
In order to reach the stage we are at now, we have carried out an
initial sift across Government and its agencies. This has given us a
preliminary indication of the sustainability and infrastructure aspects
of these locations in relation to the criteria set out in the Eco-towns
Prospectus, including their approach to transport and the environment.
In this very early stage, the Government also took soundings from
regional partners in the Assemblies and Development Agencies, as well as
the very important views of the local authorities affected by the sites.
All local authorities have been informed that their views are actively
sought on these schemes.
On the day of announcement, I will publish the 15 schemes shortlisted
for full public consultation, as well as the full list of bids received.
I will explain why I think these are the best schemes to go forward for
consultation, as well as setting out fully our vision and some very
stretching requirements that the eco-towns will need to fulfil. I will
also set out in detail the process for taking eco-towns through the
I understand there have been concerns on this point in particular, and I
have answered this point previously on the floor of the House, but let
me reassure you again that eco-towns will be subject to a planning
application and full local consultation. Each application must be
decided on its merits, and the local planning authority will need to
take into account all the impacts of the proposals.
I will also announce that I am commissioning more detailed
Sustainability Appraisal work that will include evaluation of the
locations being considered. This will provide greater detail on
environmental sustainability and other issues and test them against
Our objective is to get up to 10 eco-town schemes underway with the
potential to deliver up to 100,000 homes. As set out in the Eco-towns
Prospectus, our vision is that eco-towns must be new settlements, places
with a separate and distinct identity but have good links to surrounding
towns and cities in terms of jobs, transport and services. Indeed
eco-towns should contribute to those existing communities.
Any new settlement must be of sufficient size to ensure a good level of
services, jobs and community facilities so as to create attractive and
sustainable places to live. There should be provision within the town
of a good range of facilities, including a secondary school, shopping,
business space and leisure. All of these issues will need to be tested
in the consultation process and in further work on the schemes
My strong preference is to work closely with local authorities in taking
forward the eco-town schemes and I will be keen to form partnerships
with individual authorities in the relevant areas in which we can give
some additional support to reflect the additional pressures on
authorities in terms of planning and capacity as these schemes are
considered in more depth.
If the bid in your area is one of the ones on the shortlist I will be
keen to work with you over the coming months in realising a more
sustainable green future, with eco-towns leading the way in this
exciting new challenge.