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SOUTHERN COUNCILS RECEIVE FLAK FROM BUILDING TRADE FOR WANTING FEWER HOUSES

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Serplan will say that most housing should be in urban areas rather than greenfield sites, Serplan director Brian Wi...
Serplan will say that most housing should be in urban areas rather than greenfield sites, Serplan director Brian Wilson told BBC Radio Four's Today programme this morning.

'The intention is to create an urban renaissance in the south east', he said.

Local authorities will be required to carry out studies of housing needs in their areas, Mr Wilson said. 'But we're also asking government to back local authorities by giving them better compulsory purchase powers and more resources to develop difficult urban areas'.

Tony Burton of the Council for the Protection of Rural England told Today the government should also remove the financial advantages of building on greenfield sites. But he said Serplan's proposals will still make the south east even more congested.

'Serplan should be leading the way and saying that 40% of new housing should be on greenfield sites is not good enough if we are to drive an urban renaissance for the future', Mr Burton said.

Local authorities in the south-east have been accused by the House Builders Federation (HBF) of attempting to strangle the construction industry to safeguard the environment, reports the Financial Times (p10).

Serplan is due to present draft proposals today which are expected to approve the building of 862,000 to 914,000 new houses - lower that the government estimate of 1.1 million.

Peter Court, HBF regional planner for the south-east, said: 'Local politicians, many of them Conservative, are challenging the Labour government so that if they are forced to allocate more housing land they can blame it on Westminster.'

Brian Wilson is quoted in the FT: 'We will not be providing nice greenfield sites for executive homes as the HBF would like. Most of the housing need is for single people living in cities.'

An independent panel set up by the department of the environment transport and the regions will consider Serplan's proposals in May and publish their findings next October. The government will then decide what limit to impose.

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