Change Alley

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Eco-Town Shortlist Unveiled

with 23 comments


The government has finally released its list of 15 eco-town sites into the wild. It’s good to see that some of the more cynical proposals have been weeded out. Micheldever in Hampshire, for example, was a many-times recycled application for development on greenfield land, and it is to be hoped this is the last time it sees the light of day. According to BBC News this morning, another, un-named, rejected application involved building on a graveyard. Others failed for sensible reasons, such as building on Green Belt or damaging biodiversity.

Here’s the full list, with details taken from the CPRE website. There isn’t a perfect match between the site names in CPRE’s research and those on the official list. Where it’s not entirely clear, no details have been given.

Bordon, Hampshire
Developer: Unknown, Number of Homes: 4,000 – 5,500
Type of Site: Brownfield and possibly greenfield
East Hampshire District Council has put forward a bid for an eco-town on MOD land in Whitehill and Bordon, Hampshire. The area, which was previously considered for development, is still being actively used as a military base.

Coltishall, Norfolk
Developer: Unknown, Number of Homes: 5,000 – 10,000
Type of Site: Brownfield
An eco-town bid was made for the former airbase site at RAF Coltishall in October 2007. 5,000 new homes would initially be built at the site, with a further 5,000 to follow at a later stage. Recently, it has been announced that part of the site will be used to build a new prison. It is unclear how this would affect the proposed eco-town.

Curborough, Staffs
Developer: Joint venture between Gleeson, Redrow, Banks Developments and Henry Boot.
Number of Homes: 5,000
Type of Site: Brownfield and greenfield
This proposed site for an eco-town, which has a working title of ‘Curborough’, or ‘Fradley’, lies north of Lichfield in open countryside on agricultural land. The proposal is for 5,000 homes to be built adjacent to a former airfield. An attempt to get the site identified by the Local Development Framework as appropriate for housing development was previously rejected by Lichfield Council.

Elsenham, Essex
Developer: Unknown, Number of Homes: Unknown
Type of Site: Greenfield
Very little detail is available about this proposal, which lies just north of Stansted. It is unclear whether a formal eco-town bid has been submitted. The local council has claimed that only 3,000 homes will be built at Elsenham, but we believe that an eco-town bid may have been submitted by private developers.

Ford, W Sussex
Developer: Redrow and Wates, Number of Homes: 5,000
Type of Site: Brownfield
Ford Airfield is 2 miles south of Arundel on the A27 in West Sussex. Two bids have been made for the site. The first has been put forward by three private landowners along with Redrow Homes and Wates, who have formed a consortium called the Ford Airfield Vision Group. Plans include 5,000 homes, one secondary and two new primary schools, as well as a transport interchange around the Ford railway station. The eco-town’s energy would be produced entirely on-site from renewable sources. The second bid, put forward by Ford Enterprise Hub, is believed to propose slightly more than 5,000 new homes.

Hanley Grange, Cambs
Developer: Jarrow Investments, Number of Homes: 8,000
Type of Site: Greenfield
There have been proposals for a mixed use new settlement near Hinxton. The site, set south of Cambridge, is bounded by A11, A1301 & A505 triangle and controlled by a limited number of landowners, the largest being Jarrow Investments.

Imerys, Cornwall
Developer: Imerys, Number of Homes: 5,000
Type of Site: Brownfield
Imerys, the owner of several china clay pits near St Austell, submitted a bid to build an eco-town in October 2007. It has been reported that the bid could be spread over a number of sites including Bugle, Nanpean, west of St. Austell and the north east side of St. Austell.

Leeds City Region, W Yorks

Manby, Lincs
Developer: East Lindsey District Council, Number of Homes: Unknown
Type of Site: Brownfield and possibly greenfield
There is currently very little information available on this proposed eco-town in Lincolnshire. It is based on two options focussed on former World War II airfields adjoining Manby/Grimoldy and Strubby.

Marston Vale and New Marston, Beds

Middle Quinton, Warwickshire
Developer: St Modwen and The Bird Group
Number of Homes: 6,000
Type of Site: Brownfield; possibly some greenfield
This proposal has been put forward jointly by St. Modwen and the Bird Group. The developers plan to build an eco-town on a former Royal Engineers Depot near Long Marston Airfield in south Warwickshire, five miles south of Stratford-upon-Avon. The proposed eco-town is known as Middle Quinton and plans to regenerate 240 hectares of brownfield land for the provision of 6,000 homes.

Pennbury, Leics
Developer: Co-operative Group, Number of Homes: 15,000-20,000
Type of Site: Brownfield and greenfield
This proposed eco-town has the working title of ‘Pennbury’. The town would occupy 40% of the Co-Operative Group’s Stoughton farming estate and adjacent land under the ownership of English Partnerships. Proposals include two new park and ride sites and a train station. The site is mainly within Harborough District with a small area within Oadby and Wigston Borough. The site is a large (approximately 5,000 acres) mostly greenfield site.

Rossington, Yorks
Developer: Partnership of UK Coal, Persimmon Homes, Helios Properties and Rossington Hall Ltd
Number of Homes: 10-15,000
Type of Site: Some brownfield, mostly greenfield and Green Belt
Rossington, near Doncaster, is an old scheme which was rejected in the past partly due to being on Green Belt. Overall, the project would include 10-15,000 houses covering 898 hectares. This eco-town would triple the size of Rossington and be more than nine times the size of the former Rossington Colliery site which is included in the plan.

Rushcliffe, Notts
Developer: Banks Developments, Number of Homes: 6,000
Type of Site: Green Belt and Greenfield
Proposals have been submitted for an eco-town known as ‘New Kingston’. The proposal, which aims to build at least 6,000 homes, is in the Green Belt on 600 ha of agricultural land at the Kingston Fields estate, in Rushcliffe District, south west of Nottingham.

Weston Otmoor, Oxfordshire
Developer: Parkridge, Number of Homes: 10,000 – 20,000
Type of Site: Brownfield and greenfield
A bid has been submitted for an eco-town centred on an airfield north of Weston-on-the-green. The Weston Front, a local campaigning group, claims that the eco-town would extend across the A34 to the nearby rail line, where a new station is proposed.

Every application on this initial list will be subject to further consultation before whittling down to a final list of ten in about six months’ time. These ten will all go through the normal planning process.

STOP PRESS: the official UK government details of the shortlisted sites can be found here

It’s good that such emphasis is being placed on the importance of designing building in a sustainable manner. These new towns, however, are still new, taking up more space and requiring that infrastructure is created from scratch. Ideally, all new houses should be eco-builds, wherever they’re put. Most of the hoo-hah surrounding the eco-town proposals would have happened even if the ‘eco-town’ figleaf hadn’t been slapped on. A large development on your doorstep gets the NIMBY blood up, eco or not, with all the usual issues such as transport and flood-plains.


Written by Pete Smith

April 3, 2008 at 9:32 am

23 Responses

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  1. who is developing the otmoor one?



    April 3, 2008 at 9:56 am

  2. Sorry Johnny, that’s unknown at this time. I’ve added some details to the post.

    Pete Smith

    April 3, 2008 at 10:21 am

  3. Where will the mortgages to buy all these homes come from?


    April 3, 2008 at 10:22 am

  4. Good question, AOS. But since the eco-town prospectus is hot on the inclusion of affordable housing, perhaps prices will be so low buyers won’t need mortgages 🙂

    Pete Smith

    April 3, 2008 at 10:25 am

  5. Johnny, according to this link, the developers at Otmoor are Parkridge

    Pete Smith

    April 3, 2008 at 1:44 pm

  6. I like the Ford, W Sussex proposal. Not that there’s much to go on. But at least it mentions building schools.


    April 3, 2008 at 4:34 pm

  7. Don’t be fooled Pete.
    “Affordable Housing” is the Polititians euphemism for rented and shared ownership accomodation.
    It’s the price private developers pay these days to get planning permission.


    April 3, 2008 at 9:45 pm

  8. Just one of the magic words and phrases used nowadays to oil the machinery. “Green”?”Low carbon”? “Sustainable”? “Eco”?

    Pete Smith

    April 4, 2008 at 6:50 am

  9. thanks for the answers. I’m also struggling to find out which developer is behind Marston Vale and New Marston, Bedfordshire. Need to know ASAP!??


    April 4, 2008 at 4:48 pm

  10. If you go to
    there is a claim by “Ministers” that seems at odd with your list above.

    “Ministers have promised that no new homes will be built on protected green belt land and have turned down proposals which they believe are recycled schemes already spurned by planners”.

    Obviously the infrastructure/roads might involve “Green Belt” as well as “greenfield” so is this why there is an apparent contradiction here?
    Or is it just a contradiction?
    Or is one or the other report wrong?

    In case anyone knows would be interested to have the situation clarified.

    The Green Belt should be sacrosanct, end of – in my view – for reasons I will be outlining on my site soon.


    April 4, 2008 at 9:38 pm

  11. Peetah, I’m sure you understand that ‘green belt’ and ‘greenfield’ aren’t necessarily the same thing, but I’ll say it anyway.The Green belt, the ‘corset’ that was defined round towns to prevent sprawl, has in some cases become an outmoded concept and needs to be rethought. Near me, an application to build houses on a scrappy area of grass, bracketed between a main road and a feeder road, whose principal use for years had been boot sales and the occasional fair, has finally been approved after an interminable planning process. While sites like this, with minimal amenity value and zero biodiversity, are protected by the ‘green belt’ label, development is forced outwards onto genuine countryside. What a farce.

    Pete Smith

    April 4, 2008 at 10:42 pm

  12. Johnny, the developer for New Marston is Gallagher Estates, and for Marston Vale it’s O&H Properties Ltd
    There’s a general eco-town consultation document here

    Pete Smith

    April 5, 2008 at 8:07 am

  13. Hi Pete Smith,

    Thanks for response. Really interesting.

    I confess I do not know all of the issues, but I suspect I may still stick to my green belt position, that it should be “sacrosanct.” Even though I do note the anomaly you offer and I am sure it is far from unique. However it can be a mistake to extrapolate from individual cases. Even redrawing the Green Belt could be very hazardous for the the iconic GB countryside, and I am not quite sure that is what is proposed, but I am willing to be corrected.

    Moving On

    Firstly have you (or anyone else) answered my question, which is at least at first sight simple – Will the new eco towns involve building on “green belt”, (through houses or infrastructure, both or either, )yay or nay? Clarification still seems required.

    Secondly I have written a short piece on the green belt needing to be “sacrosanct” on my web site as cited,

    I WOULD LOVE to be challenged on this. I do not profess to be an expert, I am just offering my opinion. By being challenged I may be corrected, but more importantly rebuttal will allow the true issues and position emerge from under the “spin” and “media smog” which descends on any topic these days before it is hardly out of the cradle.

    Feel free to mail me at that site. I can post the article here for rebuttal here of course if so invited, but do not want to impose about 1 page of A4 without invitation.

    hope to hear


    April 5, 2008 at 8:21 am

  14. Parkridge have said the Weston site is green and brown field site. The brown bit is a grass-only airfield used for gliding, prachuting, and farming, and the green bit is Green Belt, prime farmland, and is right over the top of a Site of Special Scientific Interest owned and run by BBOWT (was BBONT). This is beautiful land surrounded by creaking infrastructure (Junction 9 of M40, and A34 down through Oxford are already above capacity and we are about to see several hundred more houses built onto ‘our’ side of Bicester between it and Chesterton, and planning is going ahead for 1075 houses to the north at exUSAF base Upper Heyford.

    New Towns have to be somewhere, but in our locality the Weston Otmoor is a cynical attempt to make money, is not supported by District or County Council, who assure us that the developers figures do not make financial sense for this development, and in my eyes, Upper Heyford airfield with concrete aircraft blast-bunkers and huge concrete runways is a far more sensible, truely Brown-field site that would accomodate most of the houseing proposed. Regretably alternatives are not considered, only a yes/no decision on these 15 sites…


    Robin Stafford Allen

    April 7, 2008 at 9:25 am

  15. So will the Eco Town be called “Lark Rise or will it be Candleford”?

    Hope you get a robust campaign going.




    April 7, 2008 at 9:27 pm

  16. Thanks for linking to our advance briefing – just a quick note to say that we’ve put up an updated map which shows the outlines of the proposed eco-towns. You can view it by visiting and clicking on the link to our interactive map.


    April 11, 2008 at 11:23 am

  17. Developers for Marston Vale are O and H Properties ( “New Marston” overlaps with this proposal and appears to be an extension of the Wixams new town – developer Gallagher Estates. I can find nothing published on the New Marston proposal. Further help anyone?


    April 11, 2008 at 3:39 pm

  18. As a campaigning local resident of the Pennbury Eco Town,to begin with ,no one from the government( Cabinet) had the decency to come and look round this site, with all discussions between Co Op Govt and any other relevant Local Govt bodies being done behind closed doors( even continuing this process of closed door discussins now!!) and then Caroline Flint( stood outside Ideal Home Exhibition and announced the 15 Eco Sites shortlist) not even having the decency to use this Country’s democratic process,by ignoring our Democratically elected Ministers,this means announcing this in House of Commans.I invite anyone interested to come along and look at this picturesque site,with many attractions for Ramblers,Horse riding have an opportunity to attend a Rally on Sat 24th May ,to really see this is not about Nimbyism,but a general lack of forethought by all concerned!Go to Web Site Pennbury Eco Town for all details on the Campaign.

    Anne Bond

    April 12, 2008 at 11:58 am

  19. A full copy of the bid for the New Marston (Bedfordshire)proposal can be obtained from They say it will be also be available on their website “shortly”. This looks less imaginative than the Marston Vale bid by O&H properties and seems little more than an extension and “intensification” of their Wixams development south east of Bedford. It will add 40,00 population to Bedford/Kempston and will adjoin the existing urban area rather than create a “separate and distinct” community as required by government.


    April 17, 2008 at 10:48 am

  20. Hi ,
    I am particularly pleased that the proposed development at Micheldever won’t be going ahead. In my former life as an Agricultural Merchant I had cause to spend much time in the locality which is a particularly beautiful piece of Hampshire. Indeed I did a great deal of business with the owners of the proposed development land. I sincerely hope that this proposal is now dead and buried and that the area will be left in its current state for the future.


    alan packham

    April 18, 2008 at 6:55 pm

  21. Dear Change Alley,
    As a resident of Lidlington in the ‘Forest’ of Marston you can understand how ‘mildly upset’ I am at the eco proposals of O&H properties.
    They paint a picture of a very bleak landscape, destroyed by years of quarrying, begging for a new lease of life.
    How wrong they are.
    We have green fields and farm land, village communities and lakes that support all manor of birds and wildlife.
    We moved here 18 months ago as an ideal location for us to settle and raise our daughter.
    We now face a building programme that consists of 15,000+ homes, many of which will be £1m lakeside residences and even more expensive hillside homes, warehousing and retail outlets.
    O&H are trying to tell us that the 30,000+ people will be working locally,and not put any added cars on the road.
    Ha! I’ve never heard such crap.
    The governments housing ‘eco’ plan is a complete farce.
    No small community should be forced into becoming part of such massive developments.
    Protest now to help keep our villages and countryside. The only real ‘eco’ town is not to build it!
    All the best


    April 25, 2008 at 5:36 pm

  22. *Please note that website is under development*

    Dear all,
    Please let me introduce myself. My name is Peter and I am the marketing coordinator for FACT (Fradley Against Curborough Town).

    I read with interest that a lot’s of people all over the country want to stop the mindless creation of the Governments eco towns policy. Here in Lichfield a small historic city we face this challange. The lovely environment of rural North Lichfield is now under threat. I would like to reach out to anyone who may want to help us fight this cause.

    If you would like any more information on the development then please mail me at

    A summary of what is being proposed are 5,000 houses over 700 acres of land will be developed
    The development will turn Lichfield into an Urban Sprawl
    At the shortest point the boundary to North Lichfield will be only 1,000 metres

    We would appreciate it if you could add your name to our petition even if it is by email, leaving your contact details to enable us to count your objection.

    Anyone who wished to get involved in our group is most welcome; and also anyone who may just wish to make a kind contribution to help our group fight the development.

    We do have some materials to share with anyone who is interested so please get in touch if you wish to help fight this 5,000 house town in Lichfield.

    Many thanks
    Peter Lennon
    Marketing FACT


    May 9, 2008 at 2:23 am

  23. This may be old news but Campaign for Better Transport are interested and concerned about this issue. Please contact them at their website if you have not already heard about his and ask to be signed up to their e-letter on the subject.


    May 20, 2008 at 2:29 pm

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