Eco-homes building could start in months

Building work on Yorkshire's first "eco-settlement" could begin within the next three months if Government funding is made available.

Four urban districts around North and West Yorkshire will be converted into the eco-settlements under an agreement reached between local leaders and Government officials in return for an eco town not being forced upon the region.

Each of the four areas will have a distinctive way of reducing carbon emissions which leaders hope will be copied across the country as part of plans to make Yorkshire the UK's greenest region.

The four areas were selected earlier this year, and work will begin on each over the next few months – though building work is only ready to start on one site, the Aire Valley scheme to the south east of Leeds city centre.

The focus there will be on providing "innovative approaches to low carbon development" including solar panels and wind turbines for new-build homes and retrofitting existing homes with energy-efficiency measures.

The 1,000-hectare site has the potential to provide up to 15,000 eco homes, retrofit 7,000 existing homes and create 27,000 new jobs. Phase one will concentrate on the Hunslet Riverside area next to the Royal Armouries museum, where 2,500 new homes can be built.

New trolleybuses and cycle paths will make travel to and from the area environmentally sustainable and cars will be discouraged.

The scheme's "exemplar" carbon reduction scheme will be an combined heat and power plant Waste heat will be used by homes rather than wasted.

Within three to six months building work is likely to start on 280 new homes along Yarn Street as long as the quango Homes and Communities Agency delivers Kickstart funding.

Last week Housing Minister and Wentworth MP John Healey announced that Yorkshire will receive 83m through the HCA Kickstart programme, designed to fund housing schemes that had stalled in the recession, enough to build 2,088 homes.

Work is close to start on the York North West eco-settlement, with the first phase seeing 60 homes built on the former British Sugar plant site by 2011, half of which will be affordable. That project's unique selling point will be its community eco hub, which will include open space, play areas, sport facilities and a car club.

About 150 homes will be built as the first phase of the North Kirklees/South Dewsbury eco-settlement at Brewery Lane, Thornhill Lees. It will pilot a scheme to respond to changes in water levels caused by flooding.

The final eco-settlement will be along the Bradford-Shipley canal corridor, where early development of up to 500 homes will take place on Crag Road – though not until Bradford Council buys the required land.

Four sites for Greener homes

LEEDS Aire Valley: A 1000-hectare site to the south east of the city centre. Up to 15,000 new homes, 7,000 refurbishments and 27,000 jobs.

YORK North West: On brown-field to the north and west of the station. Will deliver 4,300 new homes on 75-hectares of land and 5,000 jobs.

BRADFORD to Shipley canal corridor: Area of 118-hectares along five-mile stretch. Up to 5,000 new homes, 1,500 refurbishments and 5,900 jobs.

DEWSBURY South and North Kirklees: Up to 4,000 new homes, 2,000 refurbishments and 5,000 jobsspread over four sites, Thornhill Lees, Savile Town, Ravensthorpe and Scout Hill.