Urban Design Revisions: Eco Town - Dream or Nightmare?

Wednesday 21 September 2011 - 18:30
The Gallery, 70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ

In 2007 Gordon Brown launched his Big Idea for tackling climate change and dealing with a housing shortage of crisis proportions in a single bound. The Eco Town Prospectus called for first round bids for 15 carbon neutral eco-towns. The key requirements for a successful bid would be a freestanding zero carbon development of at least 5000 homes on primarily brownfield land, public transport links to the range of jobs and services nearby larger settlements, facilities easily reached on foot, cycle or, local public transport and a design to minimise private car use. They would be the greenest UK exemplars ever conceived.

But battle lines were already being drawn. National Trust Chairman Simon Jenkins, writing in The Guardian called them ¦the greatest try-on in the long and dazzling history of property speculation. Friends of the Earth said ¦the Government is quietly removing the publics right to have a meaningful say¦ The CPRE said ¦ eco-towns should be agreed with, not imposed on, local communities¦ Richard Rogers, the Local Government Association, Wildlife Trusts, the Conservative Party and every community affected condemned them.

Support on the other hand came from the TCPA, paid to assist the programme, Shelter, and a Government appointed Panel of Experts including President of the TCPA Sir Peter Hall, Red or Dead fashion designer Wayne Hemmingway, and former BURA Chief John Walker. Despite strong local opposition to all the proposed sites, four were selected.

This UDG event will look at the Eco-Town concept taking the Bordon Eco-Town as an in depth a case study. It willaim to:

  • Dissect the eco-towns concept and take a hard look at what is genuine sustainable development.
  • Consider the role of local authorities as promoters and arbiters of schemes
  • Review the ethical challenges of assessing community and environmental impact and providing impartial information about a schemes benefits and disbenefits,
  • Discuss the conduct of public engagement and consultation, and the equality in resources available for representation of groups that may be for or against a scheme.

It will be a challenging and controversial event and of great relevance to the current debate on planning policy and localism.

The event is led by Jack Warshaw of Conservation Architecture & Planning, with contributions fromtwo members of the Bordon community.