eco towns or eco slums?

Lengthy and informative article by Charlotte Hunt-Grubbe on the Sunday Times website provides a good overview of the background, current status and future of the eco town initaive.

Starting with a dream:

Across the fair face of Albion, to the ringing of bells and the soft murmur of doves, appears a leafy flush of eco-towns. They are sun-dappled utopias, urban dreamworlds in which no human need is unfulfilled. Wildlife romps through bird-loud glades. People work at home or in business parks to which they can stroll or cycle. Public transport is swift, efficient and free, so cars are not needed. Community sports hubs, leisure and cultural facilities are so abundant that nobody wants to leave the town anyway. Children walk safely to schools in which the most popular subject is environmentalism. There are superstores for convenience, and farmers’ markets for friends of the planet. Allotments, too, for those who want to grow their own. Energy is renewable, insulation total and the carbon footprint zero.

Or a perception of what eco towns will be:

Sir Simon Milton, chair of the Local Government Association, spelt it out: “It’s no use building carbon-neutral, environmentally friendly houses if they are in the middle of nowhere with no facilities, so that people have to drive miles to buy a loaf of bread or take their kids to school.” If there were no local jobs or training, he said, the emphasis on social housing would serve only to create “eco-slums”.

and a comparison to overseas eco towns:

If only the UK’s new rash of eco-towns was as exciting as the high-profile eco-cities being planned abroad by British designers. “In Masdar,” says Lord Foster, “the pedestrian is king.” Masdar, the distinguished British architect’s scheme for a site near Abu Dhabi, will be a pioneering zero-carbon, zero-waste city. At first sight, its narrow streets, palm-tree-lined walkways, mosaic floors, low-rise buildings and sunlit open spaces are redolent of a modern Middle Eastern city. But there’s something profoundly otherworldly about Masdar. Sky rails meander overhead, solar-panelled awnings shade the streets, and there are no cars above ground. “We’re designing a new kind of transportation system,” explains Foster, “with driverless electric vehicles below street level that you can operate using your mobile phone.” When you dial them up, they take you straight to your destination.

Previous eco-town discussions on isite:

eco towns and zero carbon – chalk and cheese?

on zero carbon and routes to get there …

passive resistance

worlds greenest city and eco home?

whats wrong with this picture

eco … build, homes, villages and towns – pah… greenwash?

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