Page last updated at 20:29 GMT, Wednesday, 27 July 2005 21:29 UK

Call for eco-friendly development

Housing development
More than 30,000 new homes will be built in Ashford by 2031

Congestion charging and water metering have been proposed for the South East as the population grows.

The region faces increased congestion and poor air quality from traditional economic growth, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research.

The think tank wants to see "smart growth" which would improve quality of life and protect the environment.

A report published on Wednesday included calls for raised skill levels, affordable housing and more reservoirs.

Commission chairman and leader of Kent County Council Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said the South East faced "a difficult challenge".

Increasing pollution

He said: "The goal should be to raise employment and prosperity per household right across the South East."

The report said the region was facing the problems of success which included increasing traffic congestion and pollution, a lack of affordable housing and pressure on natural resources.

It also said the commission questioned the wisdom of setting house building targets for the next 20 years, calling for greater flexibility in planning of new homes and a bigger say for local authorities about housing needs.

The South East England Regional Assembly (Seera) recommended this month that 578,000 new homes be built in the South East between 2006 and 2026.

As many as 120,000 would be in Kent, an average of 6,000 built each year.

Seera's suggestions would see an average of 28,900 new homes built in the South East each year over the next two decades.

Building would happen in Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight.

In Kent about 2,400 houses a year are set to be built in the Thames Gateway, with the same number in the Ashford area, and around 1,200 a year more dotted around the rest of the county.

New home figures set by assembly
13 Jul 05 |  England
Call for changes to housing plan
13 Jun 05 |  England

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