I was interested to read Gideon Amos’ latest defence of the government’s eco-towns programme (16 January, page 30). However, I fear history will view this initiative as being merely the froth on the top of the last housing market bubble: not amounting to much now that the bubble has burst

We must get much more serious about the huge challenge of addressing our housing needs, and it’s not good enough to leave it to developer-led beauty contests, of which the eco-towns initiative is an extreme example.

The way forward must surely be to develop a much more productive partnership between the public and private sectors. This has to happen from the bottom up as well as the top down if it is to be genuinely sustainable. Local authorities will need to be in the forefront of planning for growth, assembling the sites and putting in the strategic infrastructure, with the market brought in to deliver the housing. Much of the infrastructure can be funded from loans that are ultimately repaid by the uplift in land and property values when the market recovers and the private sector can build more efficiently in a less risky environment.

It’s not good enough to leave our housing needs to developer-led beauty contests like the eco-towns initiative

Peter Studdert

Peter Studdert, director of joint planning for Cambridge’s Growth Areas and Northstowe New Town, South Cambridgeshire council