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|Press Release: 21st July 2008|
Housing Numbers Unsustainable Says CPRE
The Campaign to Protect Rural England's Hampshire branch has expressed disappointment at the announcement that the Government proposes to modify the South East Plan so as to increase the number of new houses required to be built before 2026 in the South East and in Hampshire. This latest proposal is for 33,125 new dwellings each year in the South East (6,685 each year in Hampshire). This considerably exceeds the original proposal put forward by the South East England Regional Assembly of 28,900 new dwellings per year (6,100 each year in Hampshire), based on principles of sustainability. Following an Examination in Public that figure was increased by an independent Panel to 32,000 new dwellings each year (6,415 each year in Hampshire). The Government's new proposal increases the total for the South East to 662,500 new dwellings over the period (133,700 for Hampshire). Public consultation is taking place on the new proposal until 24th October 2008.
Christopher Napier, chairman of CPRE Hampshire's planning group, said:
"We are not opposed to house-building per se. The original figure of 28,900 proposed by the Regional Assembly had our support in large part as it was based on a carefully structured plan, which attempted to take into account environmental constraints and quality of life. Yes, we need more affordable housing, but the Government is now insisting on very high rates of growth and development across the whole of the South East region, including Hampshire, despite the clearly expressed views of the people of the region about moderating development pressures. In Hampshire these numbers will impose severe pressures on infrastructure, such as transport and water, and involve the loss of significant areas of valued countryside in the growth areas in the north and south of the county. Long established strategic and local gaps between settlements may come under threat from developers. There will also be adverse impacts on the wider countryside from more people and more traffic, unless we can develop in a much more sustainable way than we have achieved in the past. We urge people to let Government know their views on this proposal before 24th October."
Hugh Sheppard, chairman of CPRE Hart & Rushmoor District Group and vice-chairman of the Hampshire Branch said:
"Once again, Government is seeking to concentrate a higher proportion of new homes in the South East without funding the necessary infrastructure in equal measure. This top-down approach diminishes the role of local democracy and of our county planners at a time when centralised policies have already failed those needing affordable homes and the house-building industry.
During the Examination in Public, expert representatives of CPRE spoke up for sustainable development and quality of life in rural Hampshire, particularly its designated landscapes such as the New Forest and the South Downs. Now begins a period of public consultation. CPRE Hampshire would like to encourage anybody interested in participating to an in-depth response to this consultation, to contact them on tel. 01962 843655 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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CPRE/H/145Notes to editors
CPRE Hampshire strives to promote the beauty, tranquility and diversity of the countryside of Hampshire by the sustainable use of land and other resources in town and country, and encouraging the biodiversity and well-being of rural communities.
1. The South East region covers Kent, East and West Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. It is second only to London in terms of Gross Domestic Product per head, but lacking London's large concentrations of poverty and deprivation it is, overall, the most prosperous and growth-pressurised region of England.
2. The South East Plan can be found at www.southeast-ra.gov.uk/southeastplan/index.html and sets out a vision for the future of the region up to 2026. The first draft strategy was published in January 2005 and went through a public consultation. The Plan replaces the Regional Planning Guidance (RPG9). It includes reviews of the Regional Transport Strategy; renewable energy; tourism; minerals and waste; Milton Keynes; and Ashford.
3. The draft Plan was considered at an Examination in Public by a Panel of inspectors from November 2006 to March 2007. The Panel was appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and chaired by Corinne Swain OBE, MA (Cantab), MPhil, FRTPI. The Panel's report was published in August 2007. The proposal for a Strategic Development Area south west of Reading (also known as Kennet Valley Park) was endorsed by the Panel. For further information see www.eipsoutheast.co.uk.
4. CPRE South East published a Water Strategy for the South East in September 2007. Available from: www.cprese.org.uk/campaigns/water/water_strategy_for_the_southeast.pdf (PDF).
5. The draft Plan originally proposed a target rate of 28,900 houses per year up to 2026. The independent Panel Report recommended a 10% increase to 32,000 houses a year. Under the Government's proposals this target has now increased to 33,000 homes per year.
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