Consultant in talks with government over carbon-neutral city following renewable energy deal in China

Dongtan-on-Thames? Arup’s masterplan for a sustainable city in China has caught the ODPM’s eye
Dongtan-on-Thames? Arup’s masterplan for a sustainable city in China has caught the ODPM’s eye

Consultant Arup is in talks with the government to bring its "eco-city" plan for Dongtan in China to the UK.

Peter Head, head of urban design and development and a director at Arup, has spoken to the ODPM and other government departments about adopting the model of a sustainable city in the Thames Gateway.

Head said discussions were still at a strategic level but there was a great deal of interest in the idea.

He said: "This is a continual dialogue. It's a desire to raise the game - John Prescott has said the same thing. We want to move quickly with this and so far have agreed with stakeholders that if we use this model, it would be a win-win situation because studies show it works.

"The government is not moving quickly with this but we are talking to the ODPM as well as other government departments."

The concept of an eco-city has excited the government, which is committed to rolling out the sustainable communities plan.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott went to China last month to witness the signing of a renewable energy deal for Dongtan between Arup and developer Shanghai Industrial Investment Company (SIIC). There is talk of an imminent visit by London mayor Ken Livingstone.

The 8400 ha development at Dongtan, on Chongming island at the mouth of the Yangtze river, will be powered by renewable energy sources and will be as close to carbon neutral as possible. Last year Arup won the contract to masterplan Dongtan, which will initially house 80,000 people and will expand to accommodate up to 500,000.

Head said he was convinced Dongtan should be a blueprint for the way cities were built.

Arup has been in talks with several Thames Gateway quangos about how to build an eco-city there and has had a good reception.

Head said: "We are looking at implementing this in existing projects in Thames Riverside and Sittingbourne in the Thames Gateway. We are using the same model we used at Dongtan and the same process but the parameters are different as the UK cities would be on a smaller scale."

Lorraine Baldry, chair of the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, said she would pursue the plan.

She said: "We have had a meeting with Arup about an eco-city and they have done a technical model for us, feeding in different data, to see how this could work at Thames Riverside. We are very keen to carry on having as many meetings as possible to see if we can implement this in our area."

Arup signed a deal last year with the SIIC to build two more eco-cities in China following talks between prime minister Tony Blair and Chinese president Hu Jintao.

n Architect John Thompson & Partners has been signed up by Dublin-based developer Treasury Holdings to design leisure and recreational facilities at Chongming, including an "equine centre". Gambling is illegal in China, although horseracing is widely practised.

Treasury Holdings pledged a £805m investment in Dongtan last year.