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Wednesday, October 13, 1999 Published at 08:54 GMT 09:54 UK

UK Politics

Prescott under pressure over housing

Local authorities say the green belt is under threat

Local authorities in the south east of England have reacted angrily to plans from government advisers that suggest over a million new homes should be built by 2016.

The Conservatives say that if the plans are backed by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott he will have broken his pledge to build 60% of new homes on brownfield sites.

The proposed figures are also way above those suggested in last year's regional development plans.

The body representing councils in the south east, Serplan, has already rejected the proposals.

It warns that they could produce a planning nightmare and could see "hand-to-hand" combat in planning meetings.

[ image: Over a million new homes could be built by 2016]
Over a million new homes could be built by 2016
The pressure on the green belt in the south east is especially acute due to the region's strong economy.

The shadow spokesman for the environment, John Redwood, told the BBC the government should disown the proposals.

He said: "John Prescott has turned his back on the declining or run down areas - the northern cities, the midland cities - and that he has turned his back on all of those who want to keep some of our green fields in the lovely parts of the south and elsewhere.

"He still has not disowned this report so we must assume he has it in his mind to wreck our green fields to bulldoze our countryside and to bury us under concrete."

He said that under proposals set out at last week's Conservative Party conference local authorities would be able to reject government proposals to build on green field sites, provided unemployment was low in that area.

Mr Redwood also insisted that there is sufficient brownfield sites in London and east of London to relieve the pressure on green field sites across the south east.

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