The property industry has been very gloomy in the last couple of years since the economic downturn, however this is not the case now for some savvy developers who are building green villages and towns which do not cost the earth to live in.The concept is called New Urbanism and there are around ten such communities across the country so far following the same principles. The philosophy began in the 1980's in America and encourages small settlements of a few thousand people to live in a community with a "centre" to it and a number of schools and facilities. Public transport is encouraged as is walking when you can and cars are discouraged, the idea is that schools and work places are within five miles of your home.This may seem a very straight forward idea and is how all development should be built but this is not the case for many people. Often cars are the only way that some people can get their children to school on time or get to work and so they rely heavily on them.In Cornwall there is a new sustainable community being constructed by John Hodkin called Baal and West Carclaze Eco-community. There will be 2,000 new homes there with 40% of them being affordable.
All of the homes though will have the new energy efficiency features alongside a new school and nursery all connected by footpaths and cycleways and good transport links with new bus services.An employment park will be constructed offering 350 new jobs and there will be 500 acres of open space to enjoy with new lakes created and landscaping. The site used to be six horrible china-clay quarries close to St Austell but will now be transformed into a modern Eco-village.The site application has been submitted after extensive talks with the site owner but more importantly with the locals.
Hodkin has held 120 hours of public consultations and has arranged eighteen exhibitions and meetings so far and has consulted 1,500 people along with 300 businesses for the venture. He admits that it has taken several years of hard work and lots of ineraction with the community with the focus being on economic, social and environmental regeneration. He has done all of this so that he does not receive the opposition to the project that other such developments have gotten. Local opposition ended one such scheme in Long Marston in Warwickshire and the tennis player Tim Henman led protests against an eco town in Weston-on-the-Green in Oxfordshire which led to the scheme being abandoned.
The schemes that are going ahead have local backing rather than opposition.Bicester has an Eco Development Masterplan which has outlined its first 74million phase which will last ten years in its entirety. Initial developments will see 393 homes being built and a large energy centre which will generate much of the new village's power. There will also be a nursery, community centre, primary school, three shops, some small business units and an "eco-pub". The councils and companies involved with this development have linked up with the Co-op to provide a store which will source supplies locally. They also plan to run eco-related courses at the local college aimed at the 16 years and over.
The architect behind the scheme, Terry Farrell, describes the scheme as a model for sustainable development in the UK.Cambridge and Devon both have schemes in the pipeline but the big volume builders will not be participating in any of these schemes. The infrastructure costs of these eco-villages are huge and the roads and utilities have to be done up front before any houses are built so they rely on the landowners selling at below market value but which may pay big dividends if the schemes are successful.