A planned eco-town in the south Warwickshire countryside will be closely modelled on the Prince of Wales’s sustainable community of Poundbury in Dorset, with local building materials used to produce a traditional Cotswold village, developers behind the controversial scheme have pledged.
The first artist’s impressions of Middle Quinton, near Stratford-upon-Avon, depict “traditional and elegant buildings drawing on the style of existing villages in the surrounding area”, according to Tony Bird, chairman of the Bird Group, one of the partners behind plans for the new 6,000-home town.
Mr Bird, who is working alongside landowners St Modwen in an attempt to secure Government approval to build Middle Quinton, said the use of local stone would be a prominent feature in the townscape, which would be influenced by the Duchy of Cornwall development of Poundbury near Dorchester in Dorset.
Mr Bird added: “Middle Quinton will combine the best features and efficiencies of modern living with the character and style found in local market towns and villages.”
He said it was intended to base the new development around a number of linked communities including the town centre, with retail, healthcare, education and other community services, together with Woodside, Lakeside and Allotment villages, each with a distinct rural character.
Tree-lined streets and pedestrian-only areas would dominate the main town centre, helping to create a “sense of relaxed community where people take priority over the car”, Mr Bird insisted.
St Modwen and the Bird Group are unlikely to discover until early next year whether they have been chosen to build one of 10 eco-towns planned for England after Housing Minister Caroline Flint announced a delay in approving a final short-list of locations.
The Middle Quinton scheme, on a former MOD depot at Long Marston, has attracted condemnation from Warwickshire County Council, Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Cotswolds District Council, along with celebrity residents including Julian Lloyd Webber, Dame Judi Dench and Jilly Cooper, who claim the scheme would result in the development of a commuter town and place extra pressure on unsuitable rural roads.
The fears were dismissed by Mr Bird, who said sustainable power sources meant families could live in homes with electricity running costs of as little as £100 per year, a saving of approximately £1,000 on typical bills for a two or three-bedroom house.
Wherever people chose to live they would be no further than a five-minute walk from a primary school, shops and community facilities or a 15-minute walk from a secondary school. A network of cycle paths and free bikes for all residents would make journeys quicker, Mr Bird said.
John Dodds, regional director for St. Modwen added: “Any suggestion that Middle Quinton would be a soulless dormitory town is completely wide of the mark.
"We are committed to creating a vibrant community which not only meets the very highest environmental performance levels but also stands as a town of the future, where people will aspire to live and over 3,000 will be employed.”
Campaigners against the eco-town claim that only well-off families would be able to afford to buy homes at Middle Quinton. The developers say up to a third of dwellings will be low-cost, but have declined to give details of the total value of the project.
Eco-town protest group BARD – Better Accessible Responsible Development – is urging Mrs Flint to reject the Middle Quinton scheme.
BARD chairman David Bliss said: “Our detailed arguments are based on a thorough factual analysis both of the site and the infrastructure needed to develop an eco-town here. A development on this scale at Long Marston will be hugely costly – in both financial and environmental terms.
“The Government should instead focus these much needed funds towards identified areas requiring regeneration, building eco-quarters where the homes are wanted and needed and importantly, are linked to existing infrastructure.”
Mr Bliss said the site should be developed with a maximum of 500 homes.