Prime Minister Gordon Brown renewed his pledge to increase the supply of housing in the UK and doubled the number of planned ‘eco towns’ yesterday in his opening address to the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth.

Brown said that that the government would build 240,000 new homes a year ‘in places and ways that respected the environment’. He said that for ‘the first time in half a century’ Britain would build new eco towns with low carbon homes and doubled the number from five towns to 10.

He added that £8bn would be invested in social housing, with a 50% increase in funds for housing associations, as well as support for shared equity for first time buyers and more social housing for rent.

The Prime Minister said that these measures would support key workers, ‘cut unacceptable overcrowding, and provide good houses to rent and buy for British people’.

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) welcomed Brown’s pledge to build 10 eco-towns. It has been appointed by the Government to carry out a study of the criteria for eco-towns and has published a paper called ‘Eco-Towns and the next 60 years of planning’.

TCPA chief executive Gideon Amos said: ‘Affordable housing and environmental imperatives affect every region - it is therefore logical that every region should have the option to develop an eco-town.’