Government-proposed eco-town standards should be applied to all housing, says the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH).
The two organisations were responding to the Communities and Local Government's (CLG) consultation on its draft eco-town Planning Policy Statement (PPS) which closed at 5pm on Thursday, April 30.
The bodies welcome the draft PPS as a step in the right direction but want to see the proposed eco-town principles incorporated into all urban and rural planning.
RTPI Director of Policy and Partnerships Rynd Smith said: \"Given the overall housing numbers required over the next 20 years, eco-towns are unlikely to make a significant difference to the housing shortage. For this reason we believe eco-town standards should be applied to all forms of housing.\"
The RTPI and CIH re-affirmed their call for the eco-town programme to be brought forward via the planning system – specifically the development plan process.
Smith said: \"We are encouraged to see some recognition that eco-towns need to be a part of the development plan process but there needs to be a strong emphasis on delivering appropriate new settlement proposals and an ongoing commitment to expanding existing settlements.
\"The size of the eco-town proposals could lead to unsustainable development where the population is too small to warrant substantial investment in infrastructure, services and employment.\"
Abigail Davies, Head of Policy at CIH, said: \"We fully support the environmental improvements in building that eco-towns can deliver, but we would like to see a focus on environmental standards on all new build homes and communities, as a norm, and to see that delivered through the mainstream planning system.\"
Both bodies are concerned the draft PPS will lead to the creation of eco-housing, not eco-towns.
Smith said: \"For the eco-towns concept to bear any credibility, there needs to be a meaningful zero carbon definition that includes transport.\"
DCLG was also consulting on its Sustainability Appraisal (SA) and Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) which accompanies the draft PPS.
Smith said: \"The government has put too much emphasis on negative impacts rather than valuing positive outcomes in these assessments. We agree that the draft PPS broadly meets sustainability criteria, and welcome the robust nature of the assessments, but there are still important issues to be addressed.\"