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March 26, 2008

Scotland’s first Eco-Town could be Cardenden, Fife

Scotland’s first Eco-Town could be Cardenden in Fife if a visionary project gets the go-ahead from Government. Planners hope to regenerate 4 former mining villages with 5000 new wooden eco-homes and a range of renewable energy and recycling features over a 20 year period


DETAILED plans for what could be Scotland’s first eco-town were unveiled yesterday.

Planners hope to regenerate four former mining villages on a 1,200-acre site at Cardenden in Fife – using it as a blueprint for future sustainable communities.

The proposed scheme of 5,000 wooden eco-homes, of which 1,000 would be affordable housing, will be built over the next 20 years.

They will incorporate a range of innovative renewable energy features and recycling systems aimed at creating a zero-carbon community.

Planners say the eco-town would not just be a “stand-alone structure” but would also involve eco-town residents and those living alongside it, being involved in community and recycling projects and adopting a greener, healthier lifestyle.

However critics say it is an example of “greenwashing” in which large-scale housing programmes are pushed through despite local opposition because they include green features.

But Colin Anderson, managing director of Banks Property Development Limited, the company behind the plan, said the proposals were not merely about providing housing but about helping to “breath new life” into Scotland’s neglected communities.

“Scotland has so many old industrial villages, fragmented communities stripped of ambition which are crying out for redevelopment.

“The Scottish Government says about 10,000 new houses are needed a year so why not build these houses where people want them and which could lead to long-term regeneration. People in Cardenden don’t want another anodyne housing development and I think many have been pleasantly surprised at what we have come up with.

“When eco-towns were first proposed in England the vision was that they would be single entity settlements on greenfield sites including abandoned air fields. There was such a public outcry the focus turned to brownfield sites such as Cardenden which can be tied in with the infrastructure.”

Mr Anderson added that his company has submitted bids for four out of the ten eco-towns in England

Søren Madsen, an architect at Arkitema, one of Denmark’s leading building firms, which is masterminding the development, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for Scotland though some aspects of what is being proposed such as turbine technology is already part of everyday life in Denmark.

“With Cardenden I like the fact that we are building on an existing identity, but the big challenge will be weaving the old and new, locally and socially.

“People have been very curious. Their population has fallen from 20,000 to 5,000 and they want it to come up to a critical mass – the eco-town could be a way to do this.”

Andrew Saunders, director of Ore Valley housing association in Cardenden, said: “The proposals are very interesting in eco terms and because of the demand for affordable housing across all tenures in this area.

“As a registered social landlord we cannot compete with this, but it has a synergy with what we have been doing in terms of energy saving. If the local community want it, itwill go ahead.”

The proposals do not fit in with Fife Council’s structure plan and the company is now hoping it can influence the Scottish Government to look positively on the idea.


PLANS for the eco-town received a mixed response yesterday.

• David Taylor, secretary of Cardenden and Kinglassie Community Council, said: “We are taking a cautious approach to this. We want the village to grow, but people are nervous of change.

“You also have to think about the mentality of people in the four villages – it can be difficult getting them to integrate at present, never mind bringing in a new town.”

• Robin Harper, Green Party MSP, said: “This project can be an icon for all new developments, small and large, and I find it genuinely exciting. Hopefully, Cardenden will set the pace for all future development.”