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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 September 2005, 00:17 GMT 01:17 UK
House building wave 'won't help'
Thames Gateway
The Thames Gateway is among areas targeted for new homes
A wave of house building across England will do little to help those in greatest housing need, a charity says.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) warned government plans would cripple efforts to regenerate rundown urban areas and scar the countryside.

Campaigners are due to meet in London to try to persuade the government to reconsider proposals which include plans for 1.1m more homes by 2020.

The government says its plans do consider housing need and rural areas.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister unveiled its consultation document, Planning for Housing Provision, in July.

House prices

The government hopes to address problems such as first-time buyers being priced out of the housing market, especially in the South East.

People should stop using myths and misinformation to block the new homes the next generation desperately needs
Yvette Cooper
Housing and Planning Minister

The CPRE argues that the plans will mean developers are given land for building in areas of high house prices, with the aim that an increase in supply will bring down the price.

But this would trigger a wave of house building on "greenfield" sites and in the most attractive towns and villages, it argues.

Meanwhile, it believes, areas which tend to have low prices, such as run-down parts of towns which are crying out for regeneration, will be ignored.

The CPRE says the plans would undermine years of progress in the re-use of urban "brownfield" land.

The proposals aim to bring in recommendations for changes to the planning system made in a housing supply review by Kate Barker, of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee.

Neil Sinden, director of policy at CPRE, called for the government to listen to "widespread public concern".

"Parts of the country desperately need more affordable housing but, as Kate Barker herself pointed out, a huge wave of house building for sale wouldn't even dent that problem," he said.

"Yet it would threaten the future health of our towns and cities and wreck the countryside."

The charity is urging communities and individuals to speak out against the plans.

'Nonsense' claims

However, Minister for Housing and Planning Yvette Cooper said the concerns raised were "nonsense" as the proposals did include protection for the countryside, environment and greenfield sites.

"They also make the planning system more sensitive to housing need, because for too long this country has not been building enough homes," she said.

"People should stop using myths and misinformation to block the new homes the next generation desperately needs."

The ODPM says because of changes such as an increase in average housing density, it can now build 1.1m homes on less land than the previous government set out for 900,000 homes.

The government says it will publish a new draft of the document in the autumn, which will be followed by a 12-week consultation period.

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