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Volume 479: debated on Thursday 17 July 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reason the advertisement from her Department on eco-towns published in the Stratford Herald indicated that the site of the proposed eco-town at Long Marston fell entirely within Warwickshire; and if she will arrange for corrected versions of the advertisement to be placed in local newspapers in (a) Worcestershire and (b) Gloucestershire. (212747)

As part of the first stage of consultation the details of all the shortlisted locations, including Middle Quinton/Long Marston, are set out in the expressions of interest submitted by bidders, and these informed the summaries of the proposed locations set out in the consultation document “Eco-towns—Living a greener future”. These details are available from our website together with further information about the schemes. Warwickshire was given as the location for the Middle Quinton proposal as the bulk of the scheme lies in that county. In any future material we will make clear that parts of the scheme extend across the boundary into Worcestershire and also have an impact on Gloucestershire.

We have just completed the first stage of consultation and through this and ongoing work we are assembling more details about sites, including Middle Quinton/Long Marston. In the second stage we will publish—for further consultation—a draft planning policy statement and a draft sustainability appraisal which will set out more detail for each location. Also as part of this there will be further consultation events around the shortlisted locations to provide further information and listen to the public’s views, and details will be provided to media in all three counties.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to speed up planning procedures in respect of applications for developments of eco-towns. (217804)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) today (PQ 213886).

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in which of the sites proposed for an eco-town and not included on the shortlist her Department or its predecessor has (a) sold or (b) otherwise disposed of land under arrangements whereby her Department would benefit from a future sale of the land in the last 10 years. (210092)

One of the Department's agencies, English Partnerships, holds surplus public sector land which is included in the bid for the Pennbury eco-town proposals outside Leicester, which is one of the shortlisted sites.

As regards other former ownerships, information about land sold or disposed of by my Department and its predecessors in the last 10 years in relation to the other shortlisted eco-town sites, and those not shortlisted for further consultation and assessment, could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government by what means she plans to accelerate the planning process for eco-towns. (213886)

The draft eco-towns planning policy statement, which we will publish in draft for consultation, will become a useful addition to the policy framework and will set out how local planning authorities will consider eco-towns through the planning system, which we already have in place. The eco-towns planning policy statement will be an important material consideration in the determination of any planning application for an eco-town, particularly where the development plan is silent or out of date.