Land News

Regional Assembly warns against unsustainable growth and calls for Government funding for essential infrastructure

EERA, 15th October, 2004

  • 478,000 new homes required by 2021 to meet affordable housing needs of key workers and the economic growth of the region
  • Regional Assembly rejects Government calls for an additional 18,000 houses but is committed to an early focused review
  • Regional Assembly warns against unsustainable growth and calls for Government funding for essential infrastructure
  • Regional Assembly to undertake early review of housing figures taking into account changes in need and availability of Government infrastructure

Housing figures to meet the region’s need for quality, affordable homes close to economic centres of growth were recommended for approval at a meeting of the East of England Regional Planning Panel in Cambridge today.

478,000 new homes will be built in the region – which covers the six counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk - up to 2021.

However, the Planning Panel rejected the Government’s request for an additional 18,000 houses in the London-Stansted-Cambridge-Peterborough corridor. Feedback from a number of independent environmental and economic studies commissioned by the Regional Assembly has suggested that the case has not yet been adequately made for those additional houses. The Panel also warned against unsustainable development and called for the Government to fund essential infrastructure improvement.

It was also decided to conduct a focused early review of housing numbers in around three years time to take into account any changes in the region’s needs and economic development.

“The Panel today listened carefully to the views of local authorities and other stakeholders, and The Regional Spatial Strategy we are now recommending to the Assembly sets out an ambitious challenge to make the East of England a better place to live and work.”

“Having now agreed to deliver a major step change in housing development, including more affordable housing, we look forward to the Government supporting the Strategy through the early provision of essential infrastructure” said Cllr John Reynolds, Chair of the Regional Planning Panel.

The housing figures form part of the Regional Spatial Strategy which sets guidance for planning and development in the region to 2021. The document covers almost every aspect of life in the region including housing, economic development, the environment, transport, waste management, sport and recreation, and mineral extraction.

Agreement was also reached today on two other issues:

  • The Regional Assembly reiterated its position that it does not support development of a second runway at Stansted on environmental grounds, but supports making maximum use of existing runways at Stansted and Luton
  • The Regional Assembly will continue to press Government for increased infrastructure funding in respect of affordable housing, transport, environmental care including waste disposal and improving community facilities.
  • The Regional Spatial Strategy will now be submitted to a meeting of the full Regional Assembly on November 5, before being submitted to the Office Of The Deputy Prime Minister and the start of a fourteen-week public consultation period. Final agreement on the strategy is expected in 2006.

Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) timeline
Formally called the Regional Planning Guidance14 (RPG14)

21 November 
Presentation of first draft RPG14.

Series of county-level workshops held to receive views from other county and district members and representatives of EERA stakeholders.

23 January 
Draft RPG14 presented to the Regional Planning Panel (RPP), taking into account comments from the consultation workshops, and the outcome of public consultation on the last sub-regional studies.

Central Government requests EERA makes provision for an additional 18,000 on top of the figures in the draft RPG14

5 February 
EERA considers draft RPG14 in the light of the Government’s requested changes to housing figures and refers detailed comment back to the Regional Planning Panel.

27 February 
Regional Planning Panel approved amendments made in the light of the 27 January and 5 February meetings, and approved submission of the RPG14 to the Deputy Prime Minister.

Late February 
RPG14 submitted to the ODPM to be held in abeyance, pending completion of additional studies that were commissioned to consider implications of the increased housing numbers requested by the Government.

Feb to August 
Additional studies undertaken to inform a submission to Government in June on major infrastructure and any other significant public funding needs, and to inform a revision of RPG14 in September.

10 September 
RPP meeting to hear reports from the additional studies into housing and infrastructure commissioned in February.

RPG becomes known as the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS).

15 October 
RPP approves final draft RSS and refers it to EERA

5 November 
EERA approves submission of RSS to the Deputy Prime Minister

8 December 
Launch of 14-week public consultation period at Ely Maltings, Cambridgeshire.

Public Examination begins

Approval of the final RSS.

Local Authorities will (subject to passage of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill by Parliament) prepare Local Development Documents to implement RPG14 at local level. This process will include further opportunities for public consultation and involvement.

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