Government pledges up to �16m for Rackheath eco-town

Shaun LowthorpeThe government today gave the green light to a pioneering eco-town scheme on the edge of Norwich with a pledge of up to nearly �16m for the project.Shaun Lowthorpe

The government today gave the green light to a pioneering eco-town scheme on the edge of Norwich with a pledge of up to nearly �16m for the project.

Housing minister John Healey said the Rackheath eco-town project will receive �9.55m of government funds from a �60m pot in the coming year to kickstart the scheme for around 4,150 eco-homes.

Added to that there will be a further contribution of between �2m and �6m in 2010/11 and �400,000 from the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The project is one of four schemes in the country to get the award and will see 10,000 homes built in Norfolk, Cornwall, Hampshire, and Oxfordshire.

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But the Rackheath plans have sparked strong opposition from surrounding communities who fear the area is being overdeveloped.

In making his announcement, Mr Healey said the scheme would create up to 2,000 local jobs.

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'Last year I gave the go-ahead to the first wave of world-leading eco-towns that will set the global standard for green living while helping tackle climate change and the shortage of affordable homes,' Mr Healey said. 'Since then Rackheath has done a huge amount of work to plan new homes designed and built to the toughest ever environmental standards.

'By 2016 there will be 10,000 new eco homes in these four pioneering areas. This means people will be able to experience green living for themselves and see how It can change their lives and save money.

'But green living isn't just about homes,' Mr Healey added. 'That's why this cash will also help transform local schools and create new transport links and energy sources. By the time the eco-towns are finished green living will already be a way of life for these communities.'

Andrew Proctor, deputy leader of Broadland District Council, who oversaw the detailed bid, said: 'It's a very positive decision. It's not just the housing, it's all the other projects that go with it. We have stuck to our guns and said if we are going to permit major development in that area we have got to get the best out of it.'

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