A project to build a town for 20,000 people in Scotland was unveiled yesterday.
Construction could start on Owenstown, based on a 2,000-acre site near Rigside village, five miles south of Lanark, within three years.
The town will be named after Robert Owen, who managed and part-owned the mill at nearby New Lanark from 1800 to 1835.
He helped improve living conditions of his workers by creating a co-operative store in the village, which saw its profits used to develop community facilities like schools.
Owen never realised his ambition to see his ideal adopted elsewhere in Scotland, however.
The new project may create 8,000 jobs, starting with a factory to build some of the energy-efficient houses planed for the site. A windfarm will help power the town and each house may get an allotment and garden in order to grow vegetables.
An application for planning permission for the town may be submitted within the next year after a public consultation, said Dr Jim Arnold, chairman of the proposed town’s co-operative body.
For £1, each resident of Owenstown can have a say on the town’s development and have the chance to be on the co-operative’s board.
Mr Arnold, who is also director of New Lanark Trust, said: “This will be a new and inspired modern version of Robert Owen’s dream – a realisation of his ideals. Owen was ahead of his time and never fully achieved his ambition. It would be wonderful to realise the dream in 21st century Scotland.”
Stuart Crawford, a trustee of charity Hometown Foundation, which has bought the land and set up the Owenstown co-operative, said: “The Hometown Foundation seeks to regenerate communities in Scotland through sustainable and environmentally sensitive projects.
“The foundation’s first project is Owenstown, which will be run by the Owenstown Development Co-operative.
“This is an exciting, innovative and ground-breaking project.
“Politicians locally and nationally are aware of this. The general response has been one of enthusiasm.”
As soon as planning permission is granted for the town a loan can be requested from banks or building societies to start construction.
Businesses interested in being in the new town can also contribute money to its development.