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Tuesday, 6 February, 2001, 17:04 GMT
Tories to scrap rural housing targets
house building
New housing -Tories say local people should decide
The Conservatives have underlined their pledge to save rural areas from disappearing under layers of concrete by scrapping the government's house building targets.

The Tory environment spokesman, Archie Norman, spelt out more details of the plan on a visit to the west country on Tuesday.

If local people do not want new towns built on their countryside, they simply will not happen under the Conservatives

Archie Norman
The Conservatives hope the next election will see them regain many of the seats they lost in the region in 1997.

They say that, in this key election battleground alone, local people must accept more than 400,000 new homes under Labour's building targets over the next 15 years, with at least half of these houses built in the countryside.

Mr Norman said: "The next Conservative government will abolish this building target within the first weeks of taking office.

"If local people do not want new towns built on their countryside, they simply will not happen under the Conservatives."

Archie Norman
Archie Norman - would abolish targets
He added that Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's plans to force local communities to construct more buildings in rural areas would permanently scar the face of the countryside.

"While the government wants to cover our rural heritage with bricks and mortar, Conservatives will restore local control to local people," he said.

Mr Norman said the Tories were announcing a ten-point plan consisting of practical policies to improve living standards and protect the traditional way of life for people in the region.

'Pen pushers'

"We believe that local people, not Whitehall pen pushers or regional bureaucrats know best," he said.

But the move was immediately ridiculed by the Liberal Democrats.

Their environment spokesman, Don Foster, said: "The Tories' new housing policy appears to be "Do as we say, not as we did".

'Out of control'

"They allowed the development of huge out-of-town leisure complexes to run out of control, tearing the heart out of urban Britain, " he said.

"Between 1985 and 1995, less than half of all new house building was on brownfield sites.

"The record clearly shows that the Tories cannot be trusted to protect greenfield sites.

"Today's claims are little more than crocodile tears from the same old Conservative Party," he said.

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See also:

29 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Ban 'identikit' new homes: Hague
12 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Showdown looms over new houses
19 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Hague unveils green belt plans
28 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Housing at heart of rural shake-up
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