More than half the 10 eco-towns that Prime Minister Gordon Brown hoped to see built are unlikely to proceed following a consultation process that was due to end on 30 April

Eleven developers are bidding for eco-town status, although a report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers for CLG (the Communities and Local Government department), published in March, said six of them could now be unviable in financial terms.

In November, another report for CLG, by Scott Wilson, assessed the sustainability of the proposed eco-town sites and gave only one location, Rackheath in Norfolk, an A rating.

Housing minister Margaret Beckett had to delay the consultation deadline from 6 March to the end of April as a result of a judicial review in January, instigated by a group opposed to the Middle Quinton scheme in Warwickshire.

Better Accessible Responsible Development (BARD) argued that the eco-town process was unlawful.

The challenge was unsuccessful, but the judge ordered the government to extend the consultation period to allow the group more time to submit information.

The outcome of the consultation is not expected until the summer. According to the CLG, the first eco-town will be under development by 2016.