Local residents are to be given more time to respond to the government's second eco-towns public consultation after housing minister Margaret Beckett today extended the deadline for responses.

The consultation on the draft Planning Policy Statement (PPS) and Sustainability Appraisal on eco-towns has now been extended to Thursday 30 April, meaning it will run for more than five months.

There will be a further opportunity for consultation once planning applications are submitted for eco-towns.

Beckett said: 'Eco-towns present a superb opportunity to provide more affordable housing which is built to the UK's toughest ever Green standards, and we cannot afford to miss it. But it is vital we identify the right locations for these eco-towns and I will not support any proposal that our assessment and consultation concludes is unsuitable.

'I know this is an issue that raises a lot of strong opinion on all sides. I have extended the deadline to ensure that all parties, irrespective of their views, are given the full opportunity to have their say, and I urge everyone to respond to this consultation.'

The consultation extension has been announced following yesterday's release of the full High Court written judgement on the judicial review on eco-towns, which the Government has won on all grounds.

A viability study on the proposals submitted by developers will also be published shortly and will provide more information to people looking to respond to the consultation. Ministers will carefully consider all consultation responses before coming to final decisions on the PPS.

This current round of eco-towns consultation on proposed standards for eco-towns and prospective locations started on 4th November 2008.

Following the end of this consultation, the government will announce a final shortlist of locations with the potential to site an eco-town.

Schemes in these locations will then need to apply for planning permission and go through the local planning process.

There are currently eleven locations on the eco-towns shortlist: - Rackheath, Greater Norwich; Middle Quinton, Warwickshire; Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire; Ford, West Sussex; Bordon-Whitehill, Hampshire; St Austell (China Clay Community), Cornwall; Rossington, South Yorkshire; North East Elsenham, Essex; Pennbury, Leicestershire; Weston Otmoor, Oxfordshire; - North West Bicester (Cherwell) - an alternative to Weston Otmoor.