Housing survey's 'unsurprising' results

A MAJOR consultation exercise aimed at looking at the future of East Anglia until 2031 discovered that residents do not want new homes built near them, but developers want more sites to be made available.

Paul Geater

A MAJOR consultation exercise aimed at looking at the future of East Anglia until 2031 discovered that residents do not want new homes built near them, but developers want more sites to be made available.

The survey, by the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA), cost more than �15,000 to complete - not including the cost of work by officials in drawing up the proposals.

But the whole process could end up filed and forgotten if there is a change in government at this year's General Election.


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Four broad scenarios on the scale and distribution of housing growth were put forward for consultation, ranging from 26,000 to over 33,000 new homes per year.

EERA had already rejected the highest end of the range of new homes being proposed by the Government - about 39,000 new homes a year.

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The responses included more than 1,000 individual responses. There were also five petitions and polls from communities across the region.

The public responses generally favoured lower growth with around two thirds preferring an increase similar to or lower than scenario 1 (26,000 homes per year). Higher growth was favoured by developers.

EERA Regional Planning Panel Chairman Derrick Ashley said: “The consultation was a really valuable exercise. We are looking closely at all the responses before publishing, in March, a detailed plan for how many new homes are needed up to 2031.

“Although there may be changes to the planning system in the years ahead, the evidence gathered will be valuable for the continuing need to plan for new jobs and homes in the region.”

Mr Ashley added that although the basic results of the survey were unsurprising, there were details which would be very useful in drawing up an overall development strategy.

“Looking at issues like infrastructure - roads, water supply that kind of thing this document will be very useful,” he said.

But he acknowledged that an incoming Conservative government could take a very different view on planning issues for rural areas - and the whole process could have to start again.

The consultation was part of a wider review of the East of England Plan which covers important issues such as transport, the environment, energy and waste as well as new homes.

EERA spent �11,700 on hiring council premises for the consultation sessions and a further �3,500 on printing 1,400 documents which were distributed to members of the public at the sessions.

The results of the survey will be discussed by members of EERA at its meeting in March when a policy on expansion over the next 20 years will be drawn up.

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