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England's shrinking countryside is facing a fresh assault from developers as local authorities fail to meet the gov...
England's shrinking countryside is facing a fresh assault from developers as local authorities fail to meet the government's target of building 60% of new homes on brownfield land, according to The Sunday Times (p10).

A survey of the eight regional planning bodies for England show that councils are not succeeding in containing urban sprawl, while inner-city areas continue to decay.

It is projected that 3.8 million new homes will be needed by 2021; a maximum of 1.52 million are supposed to be built in the countryside. However, more than 200,000 are likely to be built on pristine green land, eating up more than 170,000 acres.

The region likelyt to see the heaviest greenfield development is the south west, which expects to build 64% of new homes in rural areas, amounting to 320,000 households by 2021. Devon alone could see two new towns. One of the Devon districts most threatened is South Hams. A proposed new settlement of 6,000 houses will be bigger than any of its existing towns of Totnes, Dartmouth and Kingsbridge.

In many developed areas, builders prefer the higher profit from building detached houses in open fields to the costs of cleaning up and developing inner cities. In Newcastle upon Tyne, the city council is likely to give the go-ahead for a plan to build a 200-acre business park and 2,500 homes on farmland in the green belt near the city's airport. At the same time, it is demolishing thousands of homes in parts of inner-city Newcastle and leaving the empty space as public parks.

Even if councils' plans are modified to meet government targets, developers still believe there will still be a lack of brownfield sites. The Housebuilders' Federation commented:'Some of the regions might be overstating the amount of brownfield land available. They expect builders to rack, stack and pack people into rabbit hutches to achieve the densities required'.

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