Go-ahead for thousands of new homes

NEARLY half a million new homes and more than 379,000 extra jobs are needed to support the economic growth of the east of England, it was agreed yesterday.

NEARLY half a million new homes and more than 379,000 extra jobs are needed to support the economic growth of the east of England, it was agreed yesterday.

At a meeting in Cambridge the planning committee of the East of England Regional Assembly(EERA) agreed a total of 478,000 homes should be built across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire between now and the year 2021. It includes 58,600 new homes for Suffolk and 123,400 for Essex.

The plans could see the creation of an entirely new town with a population of up to 50,000 people, developed along the same lines as Milton Keynes, and a new university in Suffolk, but details of either of these aspects of the scheme have yet to be decided.

The vast plans are designed to accommodate those employed in 379,100 new jobs created in the same period, as well as the natural growth in the population, in order to secure the region's long-term economic well-being.

You may also want to watch:

The scheme also incorporates Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's aim to provide housing for key workers such as policemen, nurses and teachers within easy reach of London.

But although the Government wants a further 18,000 homes to be added to the total, between Stansted and Cambridge, this was rejected by the committee, which found a lack of evidence for their need, and feared the extra homes could tip the balance of acceptable environmental impact and sustainable development.

Most Read

The committee also rejected the need for a second runway at Stansted airport on environmental grounds and called instead for the existing runways at Stansted and Luton to be used to their maximum capabilities.

John Reynolds, chairman of the committee, said: “We represent 5.5 million people in the east of England it was a very significant responsibility on our shoulders today to make sure we came up with the right decision.

“It is a plan for the long-term future of the east of England, but we also need to make sure that life is better for the people that live here and who want to come to live here.”

Mr Reynolds also warned that the Government must show its commitment to the estimated £1.6billion needed to provide to provide the infrastructure such as roads, rail, health and education provision to support such massive development.

“This is a wake-up call to Government, we need to know that if the Government wants houses, if the Government wants development and prosperity for the east of England, then we have to know it is willing to make sure it provides the resources for that infrastructure.”

Under the terms of the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), the document at the core of yesterday's meeting, 58,600 homes will be built in Suffolk, of which 15,400 will be in the Ipswich region, a further 10,100 along the coast, 7,700 around Bury St Edmunds, 6,600 between Newmarket and Mildenhall, 5,800 in the Waveney district, 7,700 in mid-Suffolk and 5,200 in the Babergh district.

Of the 72,600 homes planned for Norfolk, 6,000 will be built around Great Yarmouth, 15,200 in the Breckland district and 11,200 in South Norfolk, with the remainder divided between King's Lynn, Norwich and North Norfolk.

The largest concentration of new houses will be in Essex where 123,400 homes are planned, with 17,100 around Colchester, 14,000 in the Chelmsford area and 8,500 around Tendring.

EERA head of planning Alan Moore said the development would be led by the creation of jobs and East Anglian residents need not fear being suddenly “swamped” by building sites.

He said: “I think we can assure readers they're not going to find themselves in the midst of hundreds of new homes, the whole strategy has been developed in close consultation with local authorities, which has been particularly successful in Suffolk, and the numbers of houses corresponds to what is deemed acceptable by those authorities.

“There will be a balance between revitalising certain urban and rural areas and the potential for a new town, or perhaps the enhancement and growth of an existing settlement which may be in decline, but at his stage it's far too early to say where in the region that might be.”

Mr Moore also said much of the job provision could come in new technology industries based around Cambridge, the expansion of existing smaller businesses and improved higher education, including the potential for a new university at Ipswich.

He said: “We have been looking at things like higher education, especially around Ipswich where there is a lot of potential, and there is the potential to create new jobs through improved and new educational facilities, even a new university.”

An estimated 51,900 jobs are expected to be created in Suffolk in the period up until 2021, largely in Ipswich and the surrounding area, but with a significant amount also around Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket, and also around Lowestoft.

In Norfolk 42,600 new jobs are anticipated, mostly in Norwich and the surrounding area, with a further 116,000 in Essex, predominately in the south of the county and along the M11 corridor.

The committee's plans will go before a full meeting of the EERA in November and will then be subjected to widespread public consultation before the assembly presents its final recommendations on the proposals to the Government for approval.

Government ministers are not expected to have the regional assembly's final recommendations in front of them until 2006.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter