Eco-towns will have to achieve zero carbon status across all commercial buildings, public buildings and homes following proposals are outlined in the government’s draft Eco-towns Planning Policy Statement (PPS) which has been issued for consultation.

The PPS also pledges and that 40% of the area with the town will have to be green space and that individual eco-towns will need to submit planning applications in the same way as other major developments.

Launching the consultation housing minister Margret Beckett said: “As well as providing additional homes eco-towns represent an opportunity to trial the kind of green technology that I hope will become commonplace in all new development”.

In the current economic climate some consultants are concerned the amount of detail developers will have to show in their designs before being given the go-ahead would prevent developments going ahead.

David Pitcher, a director of sustainable energy consultancy the Energy Centre for Sustainable Communities said: “The new PPS says that planning applications have to demonstrate how an eco-town will achieve zero-carbon status. This creates more front loading on the costs and means that in order to meet the planning system requirements developers have to lay out more money upfront than the existing system already demands – even before they know if they have planning permission. In effect they will be paying their consultants, architects, energy advisors and so on, from the very beginning whilst the project is still at risk”.

The consultation will cover the suitability of 12 proposed locations for eco-towns including Rackheath in Norwich and St Austell in Cornwall.

The consultation on eco-towns runs until 19 February 2009.