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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 01:44 GMT 02:44 UK
Housing plan fears for open space
Dover's White Cliffs
The White Cliffs of Dover are protected by the National Trust
The National Trust has criticised a government plan to tackle the housing shortage, warning that it could ignore key environmental concerns.

The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, launched the Sustainable Communities Plan on Tuesday.

After the Government's spending review Mr Prescott's office is set to net more than 1.3bn.

But the Trust says the building could begin without regard to the need to preserve local history and open spaces.

'Unprecedented scale'

National Trust spokesman Julian Lloyd said: "We are expecting a very large and very rapid roll-out of building infrastructure on an unprecedented scale.

"The issue of whether that can be done in a way which does not impact on the local environment is what we are not sure about."

Mr Prescott also confirmed on Tuesday that he had received a 16bn funding package to accelerate housing shortages and boost the economic renaissance of the north.

The funding will be on top of the 22bn designated for the Sustainable Communities Plan.

They are going to be building without reference to historical and cultural context, and other quality of life aspects of the need for open spaces
Julian Lloyd, National Trust spokesman

The money was assigned in the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown's comprehensive spending review on Monday.

Mr Prescott said it was his ambition to use that money to develop "genuinely sustainable communities which are safer, cleaner and greener".

But the National Trust says Mr Prescott's plans will go seriously wrong if higher priority is not given to 'liveability' objectives.

'Open spaces'

Mr Lloyd says this means making sure people have access to quality open spaces, are able to connect with a meaningful sense of the past and have a positive input in the local environment.

He is concerned that with moves towards a 50% increase in new social housebuilding those priorities will be forgotten.

"They are going to be building without reference to historical and cultural context, and other quality of life aspects of the need for open spaces", Mr Lloyd said.

Tony Burton, director of policy and strategy for the National Trust, said: "The Trust is much more than a collection of 'pretty places' to visit."

"It is a major force of change that is powering local economies, supporting local businesses, creating local employment opportunities, providing life skills and connecting people with their historic and natural environment".

The Sustainable Communities Plan intends to build an additional 10,000 homes a year by 2007-08 in an effort to combat homelessness.

Brown spending review: Full text
12 Jul 04  |  Politics
Trust hails successful year
29 Dec 03  |  England
National Trust homes plan agreed
17 Nov 03  |  Berkshire

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