Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 17:48 UK

MPs angry over new housing target

Housing development
The South East Plan sets a target of 32,700 new homes a year

MPs have reacted angrily to the final version of the government's 20-year development strategy for the South East of England.

The South East Plan, which has been under discussion since 2004, sets a target of 32,700 new homes a year.

Guildford MP Anne Milton said the plan was "devastating", while Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames said it would lead to a decline in the quality of life.

The government said the housing target was for a huge area, 80% of it rural.

The South East Plan, published on Wednesday, identifies requirements for housing, jobs, transport and the environment until 2026.

It covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East and West Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire and Surrey.

We have put in a huge amount of infrastructure in the region such as the Hindhead tunnel and rail improvements
Jonathan Shaw, minister for the South East

Local authorities in the region, which were asked how many new homes they thought it could support, initially wanted only 28,900 a year.

The final plan cuts housing targets for Reigate and Banstead, Brighton and Hove and Winchester.

But it confirms there will be reviews of the Green Belt at Oxford and Guildford.

Ms Milton said the government had treated local people with scant regard.

"The consultation, in which over half of all the responses came from Guildford, gave a clear message that the plan was unsustainable.

"The government have now ignored this message."

Mr Soames said the extra homes would bring extra congestion, higher carbon emissions and possibly more flooding.

Neil Parkin, leader of Adur District Council, said the region needed more homes but not the numbers set by the government.

Regenerate harbour

Shoreham Harbour, in West Sussex, is being asked to take 10,000 new homes.

"Our own feasibility study showed the maximum number of homes we can get out of it is 8,500," said Mr Parkin.

"But we need to regenerate Shoreham Harbour and we can do some very good work in improving the standard of living."

Jonathan Shaw, minister for the South East, said it was vital to press ahead with the plan.

"This process has happened over a number of years to identify the number of homes we are going to need over a 20-year period.

"We are not talking about a short-term measure.

"We have put in a huge amount of infrastructure in the region such as the Hindhead tunnel and rail improvements."

He said the plan for Shoreham Harbour was not just about housing.

"It is also about economic regeneration to provide important jobs for local people."

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