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Blears paves the way for the government's first eco-town

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Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has given the green light to the first of the government’s hugely controversial eco-towns.

The scheme, developed by ZEDHomes and designed by a team including Bill Dunster’s practice ZEDfactory, will provide more than 1,000 new homes as well as 9,000m2 of mixed-use work, retail and leisure space in Ashford, Kent.

According to the developer, the scheme will achieve Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, with its energy and water consumption reaching the highest Level 6.

The news comes just a week after a similar development proposed under the government’s eco-towns scheme in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire, was thrown out by the local authority due to protests.

ZedHomes managing director Michael Shwartz said: 'I am delighted that the Secretary of State has recognised the significance and quality of our proposal.

‘I believe this demonstrates strong support for eco-built homes from the government, which I applaud. We expect a strong demand from people wishing to live and work in the new sustainable community that we will be creating.’

Subject to receiving detailed planning permission, ZEDHomes believes construction could start early next year, with the first residents moving in during 2010.

The scheme was originally put forward in October 2005.

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