A planned 6,000-home new town in Warwickshire has moved a step closer to reality - despite a Government admission that the so-called eco-town will lead to more cars on the roads.
Campaigners vowed to step up their fight against the planned Middle Quinton development near Stratford-upon-Avon, after it made it through to the next round of a public consultation.
But the Government’s case for the new settlement, which is supposed to be a model environmentally-friendly community, was undermined by admissions that it would force people to make long journeys by car.
Ministers want to build 10 eco-towns with energy-efficient homes and state-of-the-art public transport networks to relieve Britain’s housing shortage.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has given the green light to 12 potential schemes, including the Middle Quinton development, which will move forward to the next stage of the consultation.
However, the department also published the results of an assessment of all the proposed eco-towns, which warns the Middle Quinton scheme would lead to more car use.
The Government study warned: “The site is remote from any city or major town, which could result in long-distance travel by car.”
Because demand for cheaper housing is low in the immediate area, the new town would attract residents from elsewhere - who would then face a long commute to get to work, the study warned.
It said: “Those likely to locate to the eco-town because of the offer of affordable housing are likely to move from the wider region rather than the local area (although there is a considerable need associated with Stratford).
“This could have an affect on local economies and sustainable transport patterns.”
It also said that the proposal “conflicts” with local and regional plans for economic development. It would be built in a wealthy area which was not in need of regeneration, the study said.
The study also set out the benefits of choosing Middle Quinton as a location, highlighting the fact that little greenfield land would be lost and it was close to a railway station.
But opponents of the scheme highlighted the admission that it would lead to more traffic.
Peter Luff (Con Mid Worcestershire) said: “At last we are seeing a glimpse of sanity from the Government.”
John Maples (Con Stratford) said: “I had hoped that we wouldn’t get to this stage, because we have made a strong enough argument already. However, the fight will go on.”
The Middle Quinton scheme would be built at Long Marston, about six miles from Stratford, much of it on the site of a former military base.
Residents have formed the Bard campaign to fight the scheme and have been granted leave to apply for a judicial review. Campaigners want the decision to select the Warwickshire site to be quashed and for the current eco-towns scheme to be declared unlawful.
Housing minister Margaret Beckett said: “Developing a greener approach to our housing need is crucial and eco-towns are a vital part of this programme.”
The new consultation will continue until February 19.