‘No room’ in South East for government’s plans

The South East Plan Independent Panel called for a 10 per cent per annum increase in house building to 32,000 a year, well short of the government Green Paper’s demands for 38,000 a year.

The Panel admitted the issue of volume was the most controversial aspect of the report, especially in recommending that some green field land would have to be sacrificed to achieve its suggestion.

The report stated: ‘It is possible that additional urban potential may be found when those local authorities who have not yet undertaken a site-based assessment, and this applies to most in this region, do so. But it is inevitable that new green field land will have to be found.”

Areas to the South West of London were identified for potential expansion, with green belt reviews around Guildford, Oxford and Woking recommended.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England reacted with dismay to the announcement. Its South East director, Edward Dawson, said: “It is a huge challenge to provide 640,000 new homes in a region where the capacity of the environment is being stretched to the limit. There will be huge pressures on resources and infrastructure, such as water and transport, and large areas of valued countryside are under serious threat.”

However, Simon Biddle, head of marketing and communications at Infinity Mortgages, commented: “The simple fact is if people want to live in the South East, we need to develop both green and brown field land. The biggest battle will be against Not In My Back Yarders, so the government might have to put politics to one side and railroad through higher levels of house building.”