Manchester and Birmingham head list of local authorities gearing up for eco-town bids

Councils have lost no time in responding to prime minister Gordon Brown’s plan to double the number of eco-towns, with Manchester and Birmingham earmarking large brownfield sites in preparation for making bids.

Gary Pickering, deputy chief executive of Trafford council, said a former petrochemical site in South Trafford had been chosen to bid for one of the government’s eco-towns.

Birmingham council is considering either the city’s eastern corridor, along the M45, or the land to the south of the city where the MG Rover car plant at Longbridge stood, as potential eco-town sites.

Site where Longbridge stood

Councillor John Lines of Birmingham council said: “We are not only talking about it, we’re mapping it out and working with developers.”

The communities department confirmed it had received 30 “expressions of interest” from local authorities and developers for the eco-towns scheme as of last week.

That figure is expected to rise before the deadline at the close of October. However, department sources said the government’s plan to name 10 sites by March next year would be delayed if the prime minister called a snap autumn election next week.

A deadline is still to be set for submissions to the eco-town design competition, announced by Yvette Cooper in her speech to the Labour party conference last week. Architects Broadway Malyan, Bennetts Associates, BPTW partnership, and Zedfactory are all considering entering the competition.

The Comprehensive Spending Review, tipped for next week, is not expected to detail how much will go towards the eco-towns.