A NEW 7,000-home ecotown is to be built on Hampshire countryside, the Daily Echo can reveal.

The energy-efficient homes will be built on land north of Fareham, as part of a development dedicated to green living.

Today the Government was due to hand Fareham Borough Council hundreds of thousands of pounds to start the process.

Last night Fareham Borough Council chiefs agreed to put themselves forward for the greenfocused Government programme.

The eco-town will be built on land between Fareham, Knowle, Wickham, Portchester and the M27, where there were already plans to build up to 10,000 homes.

The homes must now be environmentally friendly and 40 per cent of the town must be green space in a bid to tackle climate change.

Fareham Borough Council leader Sean Woodward said: “These homes are going to be built anyway.

What this status provides is the chance to ensure top quality housing, more green space and an emphasis on family living.

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“Most importantly it will push us to the front of the queue when asking the Government for money and set the amount of homes to between seven and eight thousand, rather than the ten thousand set out in the South East Plan.

“It will not mean some strange houses with grass growing out of the roof and people forced to drink toilet water. It really isn’t like that.

Many of the requirements are the same as those used for standard homes now.

“Without this eco-town status we were concerned that we would get next to no money from the Government.”

This will be the second eco-town in Hampshire, with Whitehill- Bordon, in the north of the county, named as one of the first locations in July 2009.

A massive campaign against plans for one at Micheldever Station, near Winchester, saw the town dropped from the shortlist.

Fareham Council will get a slice of £5m set aside by the Government for the next ten eco-towns to carry out studies into how the development will work.

The new homes, expected to be built between 2016 and 2026, will be subject to the toughest environmental standards ever set for new developments in the country.

They must be specially designed so that they need less energy to run, making them cheaper for residents as well as more environmentally friendly.

Every home must be within a ten-minute walk of frequent public transport, a primary school and everyday neighbourhood services.

A minimum of one job per household must be reached by walking, cycling or public transport.

The town must achieve zero carbon status, meaning that its carbon dioxide emissions must be offset by local green energy production.

Fareham’s opposition Liberal Democrats are opposed to building homes in the area proposed but if they had to be built it would be better if they were environmentally friendly.

Councillor Peter Davies said that he could see the advantage of the eco-town status but was concerned with how eco-minded those living within the new development would be.

The 10,000 homes development forms part of the South East Plan, designed to ease the region’s housing crisis.

The Government wants to see nearly 83,000 new homes built across south Hampshire by 2026.