Government’s prototype is facing a funding shortfall of 'tens if not hundreds of millions of pounds'

The government’s prototype eco-town is facing a funding shortfall of “tens if not hundreds of millions of pounds”, according to the agency delivering housing growth in the surrounding area.

Alex Plant, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Horizons, said the 9,500-home development at Northstowe by regeneration agency English Partnerships (EP) and developer Gallagher Estates was facing a “very, very significant viability gap”.

Work on the scheme has also been delayed by three months as the promoters work to address objections raised to the plans by councils.

The development, which is due to start on site by the end of next year, is seen as the prototype for the government’s 10 proposed eco-towns.

Plant said: “There looks to be a very, very significant viability gap between the standards we expect to achieve here and what we can reasonably expect from the promoters.”

He said resources had been diverted to fight a rival eco-town proposal at nearby Hanley Grange.

In addition, South Cambridgeshire council said it now expected the revised planning application to go before the council planning committee in July next year, rather than April as previously planned.

A spokesperson for EP and Gallagher said: “We are in the process of detailed negotiations over the public funding and timetable for the proposals.”