Govt counters celebrity eco-town protestors with YouGov poll.

Today’s Observer says, Ministers are to launch a vigorous defence this week of controversial plans for 10 ‘eco-towns’ by releasing a poll showing that, despite high-profile celebrity opposition to the project, it has widespread public support.

The poll findings follow two major blows to the eco-town project last week: the panel vetting the plans reported that most of the 15 shortlisted schemes fell well short of expectations and were mostly ‘housing estates in the countryside with a green label’. A report to be published tomorrow by the Optimum Population Trust, an environmental think-tank, will add to the criticisms, claiming that the new towns would make a derisory contribution to housing needs and were an irrelevance to environmental problems.’

Ten eco-towns would provide an estimated 100,000 flats and houses, on top of 370,000 new homes announced under other government schemes and proposals to encourage developers to build more properties. Between 30 and 50 per cent of homes in eco-towns have to be affordable.

The YouGov poll of 1,693 people found that nearly six in 10 felt that there was little or no affordable housing within five miles of where they lived; 46 per cent strongly support, or tend to support, the development of eco-towns; 9 per cent strongly oppose or tend to oppose them, and 45 per cent were neutral or did not know. Opponents will point to the 45% with no opinion, blaming a lack of information and publicity of the plans for these eco-towns.

Dame Judi and Nettles opposed a development at Middle Quinton, near Stratford-upon-Avon, while TV adventurer Ben Fogle and swimmer Duncan Goodhew backed a protest against a proposal near Arundel in West Sussex. Lord Rogers labelled eco-towns ‘a big mistake’. Of course these people are wealthy enough not to care for more housing.


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10 Responses to Govt counters celebrity eco-town protestors with YouGov poll.

  1. Pete Smith says:

    This obsession with wealth is not helpful. It’s true that the high-profile personalities who get the most exposure are probably in the higher income brackets, although I haven’t seen their tax returns and I suspect you haven’t either Matt, but they are the public face of campaigns run by and for an awful lot of ‘ordinary’ people who feel the same way. I haven’t seen anyone coming out and saying they’re against the provision of more housing, especially the affordable variety, just that they don’t approve of the way the government intends to do it. The eco-town concept is flawed, locked into old ways of thinking, where the only way to provide large-scale housing is to build huge estates. Often the only place to build them is on green land or right next door to existing settlements, where they cast a shadow without integration.

  2. matt says:

    What this country should certainly do is stop using big companies to build en masse. Simply provide the land subdivided, with roads and services and then sell the parcels of land off individually with caveats attached, in this case ones that adhere to eco-principles.

    That way consumers get more choice of build style, individualism in housing (sorely lacking in this country) and variety of architecture to boot.

    Government of course still provides for education and health services for these new communities and decides via planning as to whether developments need land set aside for further expansion of shops (ie. provisions). This should deal with current communities concerns with overloaded facilities from more people moving into their area.

    At the end of the day those living in current communities shouldn’t stop others from wanting to join them. That’s plainly selfish. But I know you & I disagree on this fundamental point. 🙂

  3. Pete Smith says:

    Exactly! Rather than cram a load of little boxes into a grudgingly-created tight estate, creating a social disaster in waiting, reinvent the green belt thing and allow controlled, low-density individual developments that complement and fit in with existing settlements. Enhance and devolve village envelope permissions with caveats, as you say, such as maintaining biodiversity as well as all the house-related eco stuff.
    See, we agree on that.

  4. matt says:

    That’s good. See my latest post regards Barratts ‘Green House’ for a hopefully more positive angle on this.

    Of course they will build loads of these if they get the chance. That’s the problem with mass house builders that UK governments seem to court. The design though is at least encouraging. Lets hope there are enough tradesmen out there who can build them properly.

  5. The Weston Otmoor proposal near Oxford includes punitive road charging (£200 per vehicle at peak time) to compel residents to use public transport. The shift in travel behaviour required to make the project viable is equivalent to asking half the population of a medium sized town to stop using their cars at a stroke.

  6. matt says:

    Does it really? Or is that just scare mongering John. How did your group’s anti-ecotown protest go today? I see you have high powered opposition; Shadow Housing Minister, Grant Shapps MP. I wonder what the Tories propose to increase housing provision, since it is after all Thatcherite policy of privatising council housing that started the mess we have today with a lack of housing for first time buyers, that & Labour’s inability to encourage enough house building.

    The site you link into (via your name) gives prominance to the heading, “SOVIET STYLE DIKTAT”. I can only assume the site isn’t taking this debate seriously. Oh except to protect your housing investment & keep others out.

    For other readers, to give a bit more balance to John’s comment about a road toll, here’s the rest of the transport proposal for the development;

    Elimination of the car

    *The exemplary eco-town feature will be the transport system.
    *There will be limited private car access to the body of the development.
    *Travel within the town will be by free tram. Homes will never be more than 200m from a stop.
    *Travel to Oxford and Bicester will be free by train from a new station and improved railway line.
    *TheOxford-Bedford line will be reopened as far as Milton Keynes.
    *There will be a park and ride service from J9 of the M40.

  7. Pete Smith says:

    Must admit, try as I might I can’t find any mention anywhere of this £200 per vehicle peak time charge. It strikes me as a little odd that the Weston Front campaign bemoans at great length the increased traffic the eco-town will inevitably bring, while also complaining about measures to reduce car usage. Mixed messages here, must try harder.
    Personally, if someone’s going to all those lengths to provide free, green public transport I’d use it. Nobody’s going to be able to refuel their cars soon anyway.

  8. matt says:

    Nimbys will stop at nothing to get their way Pete, including lies. This is something I suspected all along. The Oxford Mail article about the toll proposal doesn’t mention a particular charge or fee. The anti-ecotown brigade really are getting hysterical.

    Looks like a small turnout for the anti-ecotown rally outside parliament yesterday. Bad timing really; their pals were probably sipping Pimms at Wimbledon. 🙂

  9. Pete Smith says:

    Subtle deployment of stereotypes there Matt. Great journalism!

  10. matt says:


    Truth hurts

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