The body which represents all West Midlands councils says it is “deeply concerned” about Government proposals for developing eco-towns.
The Regional Assembly warned that two sites earmarked for the green settlements, at Long Marston in Warwickshire and Curborough in Staffordshire, were unsuitable for large-scale development and would cut across approved planning policies.
Staffordshire Councillor Rex Roberts, chairman of the Regional Planning Partnership, said: “The assembly supports the high environmental standards being promoted in the eco-town concept, but we are deeply concerned about the Government’s proposed process for developing eco-towns and the suitability of short-listed eco-towns in the West Midlands”.
The assembly has told the Government that neither site complies with the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy, which sets out criteria for housing development over the next 25 years.
Coun Roberts added: “By proposing sites which are inconsistent with regional and local plans, the Government’s eco-towns programme could effectively undermine regional and local planning, in particular the Black Country urban renaissance”.
He said both Long Marston, which is six miles from Stratford-upon-Avon, and Curborough, four miles from Lichfield, were served by narrow lanes which would not cope with the increased traffic that a new settlement would bring.
A lack of public transport infrastructure at both sites would make it difficult to achieve an increased proportion of journeys by public transport.
Coun Roberts said: “The development of eco-towns in relatively inaccessible locations would create a number of problems.
“The proposed towns could draw people out of the major urban areas and undermine our efforts to support urban renaissance. Eco-towns may also become little more than dormitory settlements leading to increased travel demand which would erode any benefit secured through other means such as carbon neutral building design.
“Any new or expanded settlements should be identified through the proper regional and local planning processes to ensure that development is in sustainable locations.
“The assembly recommends that high environmental standards should be the norm rather than the exception and policies in draft revisions to the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy would ensure the wider application of eco-standards across all new developments”.