Rackheath eco town funding decision 'imminent'

Tara GreavesA decision on a multi-million pound bid to kick-start a controversial eco-town on the outskirts of Norwich is 'imminent', according to officials.Tara Greaves

A decision on a multi-million pound bid to kick-start a controversial eco-town on the outskirts of Norwich is 'imminent', according to officials.

Broadland District Council has asked the government for a �28.4m share of a �60m pot to help fund a 4,150 home eco-community at Rackheath - which could become the country's first eco-town.

The scheme was one of four chosen to be taken forward last year, which angered local residents who are concerned about over development, transport problems and how green the houses will actually be.

A group called Stop Norwich Urbanisation (Snub) is actively opposing the scheme including considering putting a candidate forward in the general election, as reported in Saturday's Evening News.

It is likely that a funding decision will be made within the next week with a spokesman from the Communities and Local Government department, which looks after the start up money, confirming: 'An announcement on the funding is imminent.'

Built by Barratt Homes but with the involvement of organisations such as the Low Carbon Innovation Centre at the University of East Anglia, Building Partnerships and LSI Architects, the development includes an 'exemplar' phase to showcase how a larger town would be built.

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Simon Woodbridge, leader of Broadland Council, said: 'Government funding would be a boost to our economy and towards creating something lasting and of great value today and for generations to come. There is great housing need, but there is also a great need to plan for the future so that we provide not only housing, but also communities for families to live healthy lifestyles in. Affordable housing is not just about affording the rent or the purchase price; we need to design out fuel poverty by creating energy efficient homes, reducing fuel bills and reducing carbon emissions to protect the environment.'

The �28.4m includes more than �5.3m for the exemplar phase, �5.1m for bus service routes to employment centres and �1.3m for an eco community education centre.

The first home owners could move in by spring next year and a planning application for outline permission for the whole site and associated infrastructure should be in by December.

Are you worried about the new eco-town? Contact Tara Greaves on 01603 772446 or email tara.greaves@archant.co.uk.

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