According to an article in today's Planning magazine, the eco-town planning policy will be merged into one document with other Planning Policy Statements effectively scrapping it. Apparently developers and councils working on three of the four proposed 'eco-towns' are either actively adapting their plans to fit their own goals or thinking of doing so.
The article states "In Norfolk, Broadland District Council is preparing to sign an agreement with housebuilder Barratt Homes to develop a 200-home "exemplar" scheme as part of its Rackheath eco-town plans.
The homes are due to form the first phase of development at the site and will conform to the standards set out in the PPS, although the council said there is "uncertainty" over how the axeing of the PPS will affect wider plans for development.
Ben Burgess, planning projects manager at the council, said " It does call into question how we are going to take plans for the wider site forward." However, he said that the local authority is "still looking to call it an eco-development", adding that the council may adopt the PPS standards locally."
It seems BDC can't quite make up their minds what they are doing, having already changed the designation of the development to "Rackheath low-carbon community". They have also always spoken of introducing their own code, the Rackheath code, rather than adhering to the Code for Sustainable homes level 6 which they seemed to think was unnecessarily prescriptive.
Only Bicester NW is currently intending to deliver an eco-town development as set out in the eco-town planning policy. However, The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) has said: "The eco-credentials of the scheme are limited and there is little deviation from the standard suburban housing model.
"For the exemplar site, we would expect to see a proposal that captures the essential aspirations of an eco-town: the current proposals fall short of that mark."
The eco-town fiasco seems set to rumble on.