In answer to a question from James Paice MP in the House of Commons yesterday (Tuesday 1st July), Caroline Flint (Minister for Housing) answered: “Like any other proposed development, eco-towns will be subject to planning applications. Each application will need to be decided on its merits, and we would generally expect the local planning authority to make the decisions.”
Following the decision by Lichfield District Council to refuse planning application for the Curborough eco town, Michael Fabricant says: “I have now tabled a formal Written Parliamentary Question asking the Secretary of State (Hazel Blears) whether this now means that the Curborough eco town proposal is dead in the water.”
Meanwhile, later in the same debate on a question regarding housing regeneration, the following interchange occurred between Michael Fabricant and Secretary of State for the Department of Communities & Local Government, Hazel Blears:
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): Will the Secretary of State come, too, to places such as Burntwood and Chasetown and see how important it is to regenerate such areas? Housing on brownfield sites could be built to the highest ecological standards. Will she also come with me to Curborough and see just why it is totally impractical to try to build an eco-town in the middle of nowhere where no roads are available?
Hazel Blears: The hon. Gentleman tempts me, as ever, to spend time visiting the sites that he has identified.
Michael Fabricant: We could go on our motorbikes together.
Hazel Blears: We certainly will not be going on our motorbikes together; that is for sure. I cannot promise that I will go to those specific areas, but I reassure the hon. Gentleman and the whole House that the eco-towns programme, as my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing has said, is subject to intense scrutiny and proper examination. We have to make some difficult decisions.
(The reference to motorbikes relates to both Hazel and Michael both belonging a few years back to the All Party Motorcycyling Group. Both he and she were keen motorbikers. Michael rode a Yamaha FJ1200).