Page last updated at 15:10 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 16:10 UK

Imagining life in an eco-town

Life in the "eco-towns" planned for the UK will be lived according to strict sustainability standards, according to a newly released planning policy statement.

The BBC's local government correspondent John Andrew considers what life might be like for a family living in one of the new zero-carbon developments.

Artist's impression of the eco-town proposed to be built in the China Clay Community near St Austell in Cornwall
The new eco-towns would offer few cars but plenty of green space

It's already 0830 in the Green household, and the children still have still to eat breakfast and look for their shoes. But there is no panic. There's plenty of time to walk the maximum distance of half a mile (800m) from home to primary school.

There is no school-run congestion and there are no 4x4s. The only "run" is the one by foot or on a bike. There is just time for little Johnny to grab a glass of water, supplied by the town's own rainwater harvesting and treatment system.

Mr Green is making a rare car journey to meet a business client. It is a five-minute walk from home to the edge-of-town parking area, where a quick check shows the electric car is fully charged and ready to go.

Mrs Green has an office job in the town. She normally walks the half-mile but one of the regular free buses happens by and she hops on. On the way home, she stocks up on locally grown fruit and veg from the community grocer.

She gets home to find Mr Green opening the mail. There is a welcome cheque for the surplus electricity they sold to the web from their wind turbines and solar voltaic panels.

Though there are 5,000 homes in the town it does not feel cramped because of the parks, woodland and open spaces that make up 40% of the land area.

Developing a soul

The Greens have a few grumbles - the promised library is still behind schedule - but at least the leisure centre is opening next week.

An electric car being charged (file)
Electric cars would be used for the rare car journey

Life is fine and more relaxed than their last home in the city, but it will take time for the new town to develop a soul and feel a bit less new.

Ten years after the first homes were built the town is still developing. Friends have seen some of the new show homes and are keen to move here.

They think they can stretch to one of the affordable properties that have to make up make up nearly a third of all homes built.

Print Sponsor

First eco-town decision imminent
08 Jul 09 |  Oxfordshire
CPRE's eco town criticism praised
06 Apr 09 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
'Eco-town' plans: Site-by-site
28 Jan 09 |  UK Politics
Plans for 5,000 clay pit houses
08 Apr 08 |  Cornwall
Brown outlines 'eco towns' plan
13 May 07 |  UK Politics

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific