Page last updated at 18:13 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 19:13 UK

Eco-town proposal 'deeply flawed'

Existing eco-homes built on The Wintles estate in Bishop's Castle
The shortlist of 15 sites will be trimmed down to 10 locations

Plans for a new "eco-town" in Oxfordshire have been described as "deeply flawed" by the county council.

The government is considering building 15,000 homes at Weston Otmoor, near Bicester, to create one of the first new towns in England for 40 years.

The area is among 10 sites shortlisted to become "environmentally-friendly" towns built by 2020.

The developers, Parkridge, said it would involve all key stakeholders to make the plans work.

Oxfordshire County Council said some aspect of the Weston Otmoor project were "unbelievable".

It presented a report to the council's cabinet with a list of concerns, which included areas such as "transport, housing, deliverability, the eco-credentials of the plan and the lack of planned social and cultural services".

'No thought'

Councillor Keith Mitchell, leader of the council, said: "All of these concerns need addressing. However, some of them are quite incredible.

"The assumption that almost everyone will travel to and from this huge town by train or tram, given how close it is to the A34 and M4, is just unbelievable.

"This shows that no thought has been given to the people who might actually live there and what they might want to do."

Parkridge said: "Over the past few months, Parkridge has been working with local organisations and stakeholders to respond to some of the issues that were raised about the early proposals for Weston Otmoor.

Roger Sporle, from the company, said: "We are committed to making sure the proposals work at every level by involving all key stakeholders over the coming months."

The government will finalise its plans for the 10 "eco-towns" in the next few months.

Ministers want five of them built by 2016, with the other half completed by 2020.

The largest will provide between 15,000 and 20,000 new homes, with officials saying the towns should be "zero-carbon" developments and should be exemplary in one area of sustainability, such as energy production or waste disposal.

They also want 30% to 40% of each eco-town to be allocated as affordable housing.

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