Local Government Association attacks the way eco-towns programme is bypassing the planning system

The government’s eco-towns programme is substantially flawed and risks creating “eco-slums” according to a report from the body that represents local councils.

The Local Government Association said eco-towns, of which prime minister Gordon Brown has committed to building 10 across the country, were being imposed against the will of local democracy, and were bypassing normal planning procedures.

The LGA said: “proper planning processes are being bypassed in order to impose these schemes in the face of fierce opposition.”

Harlow New Hall development

The organisation added that ignoring normal planning process would inevitably end in “developments to be built in isolated areas without the essential facilities needed by people in their everyday lives.”

The news comes as the government’s consultation on the 15 areas shortlisted as locations for the10 eco-towns closes on Monday. It also follows the publication of a report by the eco-towns “challenge panel” which found most of the schemes had a long way to go to reach exemplar standard.

Commenting on the Local Government Association’s report, Liberal Democrat shadow housing minister, Lembit Öpik said eco-towns were a prime example of the government’s obsessive centralising tendencies.

“Instead of ensuring all our towns and cities are sustainable, the government proposal uses the green facade of eco-towns to bypass the planning system and ignore local communities. Despite being presented as eco-friendly, we now know that these homes will only have to meet moderate environmental standards. It shows the whole concept is just greenwash,” he said.