Independent Report: Pennbury “Eco” Town Will Not Work

Consultants Halcrow have published their independent report into the proposed Pennbury “Eco” Town by analysing the Co-operative Group’s most recent masterplan.  Halcrow found that overall the plan left too many questions unanswered or ambigious statements about how problems could be solved. 

Key Conclusions of Halcrow’s independent report into Pennbury “Eco” Town:

1. Employment

The “eco” town would conflict with the economic strategy for Leicester.  Pennbury has poor links with the road network and this is unlikely to attract employers to the proposed town, therefore, Pennbury will not produce the number of jobs required.  The Co-operative Group have proposed that 60% of Pennbury residents would work there.  Halcrow found no convincing evidence to support this assertion.  In neighbouring Oadby and Wigston only 34% of residents work in Oadby and Wigston.

2. Environment and Location

Pennbury would not be a freestanding settlement with its own identity (a key requirement of the Government’s specification) as it is too close to existing villages.  There have been no detailed surveys of the existing environment by the Co-operative Group.

3. Design

Halcrow found no evidence that the Co-operative Group would produce quality design or provide quality of life for potential residents.  There was no evidence that the Co-operative Group would sensitively integrate the proposed town with the wider landscape.  The high density site – 75 dwellings per hectare – will create a very urbanised town that will be difficult to integrate into the area.  There is little evidence that the Co-operative Group has considered flood risks.

4. Housing

The Co-operative Group are not clear about who they are seeking to attract and different groups have differing needs.  More detail is required as there is also no clear evidence on linking the economic and housing strategies in the masterplan.

5. Transport

There are funding uncertainities associted with the proposed tram.  There are still concerns about the transport infrastructure.  A further report about the effect of the Co-operative Group’s transport plans, particularly in regard to the extra traffic on the A6, will be completed in January.

The Co-operative Group, missing the point as usual, commented:

We think this is very encouraging for us – more and more, people are starting to see and grapple with the issues that the eco-town is all about.  That is sustainable growth, investment, new homes and jobs and more environmentally responsible ways of living.  This report will add further momentum to that and, in our opinion, help people to make informed decisions about the challenges we all face.

The only issues I’ve been grappling with are that building 12,000 – 15,000 homes, businesses and services on green wedge, sucking surrounding towns and villages into one huge urbanised mess, in an area desperately short of transport infrastructure is wrong.  What do you think?

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