Monday, 30 July 2007


A Devon community of thousands of new homes will be a prototype for the "eco towns" proposed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Mr Brown has ordered the biggest housebuilding programme since the 1940s - and Government officials believe Cranbrook - which is due to be built on farmland east of Exeter - provides a blueprint for future developments.

Senior Government official Richard McCarthy told a specially invited audience of 300 housing experts in Reading: "We must not overlook the need for good design of both homes and communities, the urgent need for the highest environmental standards and lifestyles, and an innovative approach to transport provision.

"Some of you are already making great progress in these areas. East Devon District Council is blazing the trail with the Cranbrook development east of Exeter, which will serve as a prototype of the new eco towns which the Prime Minister has announced, with challenging targets for energy efficiency and rail links into Exeter".

At Cranbrook, 40 per cent of the first 2,900 homes will be "affordable" and around 16.7 per cent of its energy will come from renewable sources. The new town - in which public buildings such as schools will be powered by biomass boilers - will also conform to the latest regulations on water use, building materials and waste.

The conference was told Cranbrook will have its own railway station, and developers will have to abide by government requirements for sustainable homes, which includes a range of standards in terms of energy use, insulation, water use, materials, surface water run-off and waste.

But the details of how the new town will meet its environment targets have yet to be finalised.

Campaigners said labelling Cranbrook an eco town was an attempt to "greenwash" a development that would needlessly damage the environment.

The consortium behind Cranbrook, East Devon New Community Partners, said no homes or buildings where people worked would be built on land with anything greater than a "one in 1,000 year" flood risk. The current requirement is that homes should not be built in an area with a "one in 100 year" risk.
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