Councils invited to bid for zero carbon new towns modelled on Prince Charles' developments

Gordon Brown has pledged to build five new low carbon towns with up to 20,000 homes in each.

Homes in the five “eco-towns” will be built to zero carbon standards and will be exempt from stamp duty. Energy will be supplied from sustainable sources, such as solar and wind power.

Gordon Brown

This is Brown’s first major policy commitment in his campaign to become prime minister, signalling his focus on home ownership and green issues.

Brown said the first site to become an eco-town will be the brownfield Oakington Barracks in Cambridgeshire, which was recently bought by English Partnerships for £100m.

Councils are to be invited to bid for the other four new towns and about 40 have already expressed an interest.

According to reports, the new towns are to be modelled on the “green” developments pioneered by Prince Charles.

Plans for a series of eco-towns were first unveiled by housing minister Yvette Cooper earlier this year. In March, Cooper announced £2m funding to develop the towns and announced the appointment of Professor David Lock, chair of the Town and Country Planning Association, to report to government on further developing criteria for the towns.

Cooper said that the eco-towns would be part of the New Growth Points scheme - 45 towns and cities which were confirmed last October. The government said the NGPs had the potential to deliver 100,000 new homes by 2016.