Sustainable communities development should be shifted towards extensions of existing conurbations

The development of sustainable communities should be shifted away from the government’s 10 proposed eco-towns on greenfield sites towards extensions of existing conurbations, according to a report published last week.

The report, Beyond Eco-towns, was compiled by regeneration consultant URBED and housing design watchdog Design for Homes, along with architect PRP. It draws lessons from six urban developments in Germany, Sweden, Ireland and the Netherlands.

As well as proposing that new communities should be “closely linked to thriving urban conurbations”, the report’s six recommendations include creating balanced communities through a mix of housing types and tenures.

Development should be undertaken by local authorities “with active civic leadership” rather than rely on “the adversarial and legalistic approach to development that has marred many developments in England”. Infrastructure should be provided upfront and funded by low-cost public finance.

The report was partly compiled by architect PRP, whose chairman, Andy von Bradsky, is lobbying the Homes and Communities Agency and the communities department to heed the findings. “We hope they will convene a gathering to discuss the report,” he said. “And although we have no guarantee that they will adopt our recommendations, we hope they will filter through into the whole development system.”