Land News

Prescott Accused of Raising Housing Targets

Scotsman, 8th November, 2004

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was today accused of a “blitz on Britain’s countryside” after it emerged that a regional assembly was looking at raising housebuilding targets.

Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning, John Hayes, hit out at the move by the South East England Regional Assembly, (SEERA) the strategic planning body for the area, and said: “I am staggered by Mr Prescott’s plans to raise housing targets even further in the South East. It’s a blitz on Britain’s countryside.”

Pledging that a Conservative Government would abolish the “wasteful bureaucratic” regional bodies, Nr Hayes added:

“New housing is not needed in the numbers Mr Prescott is suggesting. Where we do need houses, they should be built on brownfield sites wherever possible and on a scale which is environmentally sustainable.”

SEERA is today considering proposals to increase the new homes target and the prospect of 720,000 new homes over the next 20 years.

Mr Prescott has already identified four housing hot spots in the region including Milton Keynes, the Thames Gateway, the M11 Stansted-Cambridge corridor and Ashford in Kent where low cost accommodation is needed for key workers.

But the regional assembly is now discussing proposals to increase the target from 29,500 to 36,000 homes a year.

Mr Hayes: “Last week we saw the death of Mr Prescott’s regional agenda with the overwhelming “No” vote in the North East.

“This then still leaves unaccountable regional bodies in control of issues such as housing and planning. It is these bodies, stooges of Mr Prescott’s in a centralised planning system, who will be ignoring both the devastating environmental impact and the concerns of local people if they implement his over-inflated proposals.

“Council leaders are right to question whether the proposals are workable. The Conservatives would abolish the wasteful, bureaucratic tier of regional government, returning power to local councils.”

Kate Gordon, spokesman for the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: “We are opposed to any encroachment of the Green Belt and we feel the best use should be made of greenfield sites. The South East should not have that scale of development.

“There are 90,000 empty homes in the region with 100,000 empty in London. We would like to see use made of them. These are issues the Government should be tackling.”

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