Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 15:13 UK

Mixed feeling over eco town plan

Steve Parsons from the Bordon Area Action Group
Steve Parsons says there is not enough room for 5,000 new homes

The government's announcement that a new "eco-town" will be built at Whitehill Bordon in east Hampshire has received a mixed response.

It is one of four locations chosen as part of the scaled-down plans. Other "carbon neutral" sites will be created in Norfolk, Oxfordshire and Cornwall.

Whitehill Bordon is the only bid put in by a council and not a developer.

East Hampshire District Council welcomed the news but opponents said greenfield land should not be built on.

Gordon Brown had originally announced plans to create hundreds of thousands of homes in 10 "eco towns".

But the zero-carbon developments - some earmarked on open countryside - have caused protests and a legal challenge.

Whitehill Bordon eco town plan
The existing town centre will be developed as part of the plan

East Hampshire District Council's plan includes up to 5,500 new homes and 7,000 new jobs for Whitehill Bordon.

The town will strive to become "carbon neutral" by 2036.

Councillor Ferris Cowper, leader of East Hampshire District Council, said securing eco-town status would mean transport in the town and surrounding villages would be "dramatically improved".

He said: "The status will raise the profile of the town and help attract investment, jobs and facilities.

"As the world tries to combat the effects of climate change Whitehill Bordon will be at the cutting edge of this and will help to lead the way in sustainable living."

He said the plan would give the town facilities and infrastructure it "desperately needed while also protecting the environment".

'Firmly opposed'

But Steve Parsons, from the Bordon Area Action Group, said: "The problem we have is that the council plan involves building on greenfield land taking farmland and taking woodland.

"We are very firmly opposed to that.

"The scale is a problem and also the density.

"Putting a town of 30,000 people into Bordon is completely the wrong thing to do.

"There'll be massive problems with transport, congestion, pollution.

This hasn't been thought through
Steve Parsons, Bordon Area Action Group

"This hasn't been thought through. The whole thing has been manipulated from the beginning.

"Five-and-half thousand homes in Bordon will not work. It will only work by cramming them in.

"There aren't the transport links, there are massive issues with really high quality natural areas that need to be protected, heathland and so forth.

"We're already seeing more heathland fires as a result of more people being pushed into the area and that will only get worse."

Daphne Gardner, the council's acting chief executive, said: "We've tried all along to listen carefully to the views of people in the town, which is why we developed the Green Town Vision.

"The eco-town process provides the opportunity to deliver the Green Town Vision, which will create a vibrant, sustainable town which will meet the needs of everyone living and working in Whitehill Bordon."

A draft masterplan for the town is being developed and further consultations will be held before it is adopted.


There was a mixed public reaction to the government's announcement

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