Eco-Town Challenge Panel Makes Significant Progress in Developing Eco Friendly Towns

Significant progress has been made in the proposals for eco-towns, according to a report published today by the Eco-Town Challenge Panel, an independent group of experts in sustainability and urban development set up by Housing Minister Caroline Flint.

The Panel found that many of the bidders had responded positively to the first set of recommendations, published last May, but it still wants to see further improvements to the transport and employment strategies for a number of the proposed eco-towns.

Housing Minister Caroline Flint, who last week announced that eco-towns faced the toughest ever green standards for new housing, said:

"The progress made over the past few weeks demonstrates the willingness of the promoters to react to the expert advice they have been given. But there are no done deals and only the best quality schemes with very high sustainability standards will qualify for eco-town status."

John Walker, chairman of the Eco-town Challenge Panel, said:

"Many of the proposals have shown significant and encouraging progress during those few weeks. In all cases, the Panel made suggestions about where it believes further progress is most needed, and has encouraged the direction in which much of the work is going. It is now for the proposers to consider whether and how to respond to these comments through the further development of their ideas."

The Panel was set up by the Government to encourage bidders for eco-towns to raise the standard of their proposals, in order to maximise the potential for eco-town development in every location. The panel has not been asked to select schemes or to recommend which schemes should or should not go forward. Their role is to encourage bidders to develop their proposals to fit well within their surroundings, demonstrate innovative approaches to produce groundbreaking sustainable developments.

The full report of the Panel's findings can be found on www.communities.gov.uk/housing/housingsupply/ecotowns/ .

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