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CPRE slams eco-towns

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Downing Street’s showpiece eco settlements “will weaken the social fabric of existing towns”, a report by countryside campaigners claims.

The Proximity Principle: Why we are Living too Far Apart, published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), says the government’s housing policy causes settlements to spread out wider, leaving people living further away from each other.

CPRE planning head Marina Pacheco said: “The creation of 10 new eco-towns, the centrepiece of [prime minister] Gordon Brown’s housing plans, will only worsen this drift, and will weaken the social fabric of existing towns.”

'Focus on proximity'

Becky Willis, report author, added: “Despite the advantages of proximity, Gordon Brown’s housing policy is causing greater dispersal, by promoting new eco-towns outside existing settlements and refusing to provide incentives for development within existing towns and villages. This report suggests that housing policy should focus on supporting existing communities.”

Professor Anne Power, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion , London School of Economics , said the report “breaks new ground”.

“It reinforces the urgency of compact development where people, services and amenities are all located close together so that people can live more sustainably in a more socially integrated way,” she said.

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