Controversial homes plan set to suceeed

THE East of England will ultimately cave in to Government demands for an extra 18,000 homes in the region despite opposition from local councils and environmentalists, a top politician claimed last night.

By Juliette Maxam

THE East of England will ultimately cave in to Government demands for an extra 18,000 homes in the region despite opposition from local councils and environmentalists, a top politician claimed last night.

Tomorrow, the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) meets to discuss the Government's plans for thousands of new homes in the region to be built over the next 20 years.

The Government first asked EERA to consider plans for 478,000 homes in the East, but then put together proposals for a further 18,000 to be built in the Stansted/Peterborough corridor.


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Last month the Regional Planning Panel discussed the plans and recommended EERA accept the proposals for 478,000 homes, but oppose the additional 18,000, which were mainly earmarked for the Harlow area.

And last night, Essex County Council cabinet member for planning Peter Martin, who represents Essex on both the planning panel and EERA, said he intends to urge his fellow members of the regional assembly to oppose the extra 18,000 homes.

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But he admitted the Government will almost certainly get the additional homes it wants.

He said: “There's now talk about a new settlement in the region. They (the Government) haven't specified where.

“With these 18,000 homes, the Government will be looking for EERA to look at a new settlement in the region.”

He added: “They're clearly intent on making it happen. We may have a stay of execution by achieving a delay.”

The problem stems from the regional assembly's lack of power.

EERA can only put forward its recommendations to the Government, but it is up to John Prescott's Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to make decisions.

EERA will make its recommendations at tomorrow's meeting in Southend. There will then be a period of public consultation from December to March. An “examination in public” will take place on September 13 next year when a planning inspector will visit the region and listen to all relevant arguments.

He will then complete his report and send it to Mr Prescott, who will make a decision in December 2006.

Rodney Bass, who represents Maldon District Council on EERA, said he will be opposing the extra 18,000 homes.

He said he is already angry that Essex is expected to build 131,000 new homes when the county council suggested a limit of 110,000 due to lack of infrastructure, employment and need.

“This is John Prescott dumping rabbit hutches on Essex, concreting the countryside and ruining the county of Essex,” he said.

The Council for the Protection of Rural England is urging EERA to reject all of the proposed new homes.

Chairman Barry Porter, earlier this week, said: “It will cause really big problems in the east.

“There will be an enormous pressure on the rail and roads we have. That's what we are worried about as an organisation. Do we need all these houses? “Where is the infrastructure and employment?”

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