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Based on the principles of the New Urbanism Movement, could Tornagrain, a new town proposed on the outskirts of Inverness, become one of Gordon Brown’s 10 new eco-towns?

Part 1 Dissertation 2008
Claire Bonner
Robert Gordon University UK
As a consequence of global warming, the architecture and planning industry are at a very interesting and crucial time; sustainability needs to be addressed at both the macro and micro scales. Buildings need to be designed to have ‘zero carbon dioxide emissions’ through material choices and how they are run; and as demand for housing increases, sustainable communities need to be created in which to live.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has proposed ten new eco-towns to be built across the UK. The five key criteria for eco-towns were outlined in the Communities and Local Eco-Towns Prospectus published in 2007. These were 5,000-10,000 homes; zero carbon standards; good range of facilities; 30-50% affordable housing and a management body.

New Urbanism is a movement that claims to fulfil these criteria and was first introduced to the UK at Poundbury, the development that Prince Charles initiated, and master planned by Leon Krier. Gordon Brown confirmed that the proposed new eco-towns were to be based on the principles set out at Poundbury.

When the Communities and Local Government document was published, Tornagrain, a new town based on New Urbanist principles, was being prepared for a planning submission. Master planned by the co-founders of New Urbanism, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, the proposed town near Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland has a target population of 10,000 people, making it a candidate for one of the ten new eco-towns.

For a community to be truly sustainable and as such become an eco-town, it needs to be socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. In order to determine whether Tornagrain is sustainable and capable of becoming a new town, each of these criteria needs to be analysed against the New Urbanist principles.

This dissertation, using Tornagrain as a case study, attempts to answer the question:

Can New Urbanism provide eco-towns for the future?

Claire Bonner

This dissertation explores key contemporary issues in terms of both the North East of Scotland and the wider British context.

It is thoroughly researched, clearly written and appropriately illustrated. The author demonstrates good critical appraisal particularly with her analysis of the ‘guiding principles’ for Tornagrain and whether the proposals fulfil the criteria for becoming an eco-town. She is to be commended for her intelligent interview with Andrew Howard of Moray Estates.

Mr Louise Hunter
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