Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Doubts grow over eco-town plans

Housing minister Margaret Beckett said today it was possible that no eco-towns will end up being built if the government decides not to take forward any proposals.

At a joint press conference this morning with Yvette Cooper, chief secretary of the Treasury, Beckett said that work on eco-towns was progressing, with an announcement expected by the summer.

Estates Gazette said she would not say how many she expected there to be, but said: "I will say this: that if no schemes meet the standards required then there will not be any names coming forward.

"But, I would be very disappointed, and somewhat surprised, if that was the case."

She said they had deliberately slowed down the consultation due to the court challenge that was brought by opponents to the scheme, and that "much had been read into that".


Doubts grow over eco-town plans


However, Beckett said: "I am sorry in one sense that there are some proposals that have already been judged to be unlikely to reach the standards that we expect.

"But it’s got to meet high environmental standards, and I don’t regret the process."

The two ministers said they believed the gap between the economic policies of the two parties was "bigger now than at any point since before the Thatcher years".

Beckett said the Homes and Communities Agency was in the process of deciding which regeneration schemes would receive funding from the ВЈ400m Kickstart Housing Delivery Programme announced in the Budget in April.

Bids will be accepted until 8 June, with the successful bidders announced in July.

More than 30,000 people have registered their interest in the government’s HomeBuy Direct scheme, which aims to help first-time buyers by giving them an equity loan of 30% of the purchase price, which is funded between the government and the developer.