Fears over region's housing plan

By Rebecca SheppardA COUNTRYSIDE campaigner has warned the Government may push through plans for an extra 18,000 homes in the eastern region.The homes would be added to the 478,000 that will have to be built in the area by 2021 under proposals to be ratified by the East of England Regional Assembly on Friday.

By Rebecca Sheppard

A COUNTRYSIDE campaigner has warned the Government may push through plans for an extra 18,000 homes in the eastern region.

The homes would be added to the 478,000 that will have to be built in the area by 2021 under proposals to be ratified by the East of England Regional Assembly on Friday.

Although the members of the assembly's planning committee rejected Government plans for 18,000 additional homes between Stansted and Cambridge, campaigners fear Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott could still push them through.


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The green light for almost 500,000 homes could also mean money is redirected out of Suffolk to help fund infrastructure in areas swamped by extra housing, the Council for the Protection for Rural England has warned.

Barry Porter, chairman of the conservation body in the region, said: "The East of England Regional Assembly was minded earlier to reject the 18,000 extra, but now we hear that there are talks going on to get these houses in.

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"There are not going to be as many homes built in Suffolk and Norfolk as they are on the edge. The inner areas that are most affected environmentally are going to be screaming out for more money, for schemes like bypasses for Stansted.

"More and more money will be pushed into these areas and the communities supplying them with labour. Equally it could mean that any industry in the Ipswich area, the planned silicone corridor, could be put at risk as they have to put any direct employment prospects into new areas.

"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?"

The council called on members of the East of England Regional Assembly to reject the plans for the 478,000 homes for Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, which have to be built between 2001 and 2021.

But Colin Wiles, chairman of the Eastern region branch of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said the homes were necessary.

"Most people want to be housed in the South-East and that is where the growth is going to be. If we do not get more affordable houses, the economy will suffer as businesses are not going to recruit," he warned.

"The need for affordable housing is the bit we're interested in. We will be looking at the figures for homelessness, people on waiting lists and key workers. We will be looking at where the lower paid workers will live if the economy carries on growing and the housing market stays strong.

"There is going to be a battle over the next 10 to 15 years between people like us that want new homes that are affordable and others that are well-housed and not keen."

No-one was available last night from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to comment.

rebecca.sheppard@eadt.co.uk

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