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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 September, 2003, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
Counties at 'breaking point' says bishop
Bishop of St Albans
The Bishop of St Albans is concerned at the rate of housing growth
The Bishop of St Albans has warned that parts of the east of England are beginning to "groan" under the weight of housing development.

The Right Reverend Christopher Herbert said he is concerned about announcements of hundreds of thousands of new homes across the country.

Over the last few months planned development has been announced for the London-Cambridge M11 corridor, Milton Keynes, Northamptonshire, Essex, the Thames Gateway and Ashford in Kent.

While on Saturday, an independent report revealed that even if Stansted remains a one runway airport 99,000 new homes in Essex, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire will be needed by 2036.

At what point do we overload natural systems, such as water provision, or man-made systems, like the railways, and find that the system collapses?
Bishop Herbert

Writing in the October edition of the St Albans diocesan magazine, Bishop Herbert highlights the fast rate of growth in the region.

He asks: "At what point does the quantity of growth begin to destroy the quality of life?

"At what point do we overload natural systems, such as water provision, or man-made systems, like the railways, and find that the system collapses?"

'At breaking point'

The Bishop expresses particular concern about development in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

"I have a hunch that, socially and humanly speaking, we may be close to the tipping point, where the systems on which we all rely and which make town and county now entirely inter-dependent, are at breaking point," he said.

"I do not relish wearing the 'prophet of doom' mantle and, in any case, can see some courageous and loving attempts to develop our landscape positively, but I sense that Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire are beginning to groan under the weight being placed on them."

He concluded: "Some thinking in partnership with others, both for and against development, in all our parishes would not go amiss. Our future well-being as a society may depend on it."

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