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South-east and Whitehall lock horns over infrastructure...
South-east and Whitehall lock horns over infrastructure

By Mark Smulian

South-east England councils face an£8bn funding gap for vital infrastructure needed to deliver the government's house building ambitions, a report for county council leaders says.

They have vowed to prevent more house building unless the gap is closed.

The threat has stepped up the simmering row between councils and Whitehall over how the region can cope with the 41,000 new homes a year required by government growth plans.

Councils have argued that building homes with inadequate transport, schools, shops and local employment would encourage unsustainable commuting on already overloaded roads and railways.

Oxfordshire CC leader Keith Mitchell (Con), chair of the South East County Leaders, said: 'We are committed to ensuring no new houses are built without a firm government commitment to invest in the necessary infrastructure. This is the only way to create sustainable communities and avoid the mistakes of the past.'

Resistance could include withholding planning permission or voting down regional plans.

A spokesman for the ODPM said: 'We cannot avoid the fact that there is a need for extra housing. Without it, the region will become increasingly unaffordable for people like key workers and young families. The ODPM is committed to ensuring all growth in the south east is sustainable.'

The funding gap, calculated by consultant Roger Tym, mainly affects both public and private resources.

Private funds from planning gain - money paid by developers in return for planning permission - could cover affordable homes or transport, schools and community facilities, but could not meet all of these demands.

Heavy spending would also be needed on social care, flood defences, libraries and leisure, the report added.

'This report shows there is a gap, but one we could manage if we sort out planning gain and forward funding of infrastructure.'

Mike Gwilliam

Director of planning and transport, South East England Regional Assembly

'The high cost of land for care homes and of housing for care workers are issues.'

Alan Adams

Executive director for adult and community care, Surrey CC

Facts and figures

Total infrastructure costs to 2021-2026£55.2bn



Affordable housing£24.4bn

Leisure and open space£1.8bn

Flood defences£2bn



Flood defences£2bn



'South east' in the report includes Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire

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