Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Monday, 26 April 2010 13:56 UK

Candidates quizzed over house-building in Rushcliiffe

Building site at Edwalton
Plans to build 1,200 homes in Edwalton have already been approved

People living in the Rushcliffe seat in Nottinghamshire have been questioning the candidates about the issue of developing greenbelt land.

Proposals to build 12,000 homes in the constituency by 2026 have dominated the local agenda for months.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats said they would scrap regional housing targets and let local councils decide.

But the Labour candidate said the need for housing had to be met and brown-field sites would be used if suitable.

'Rabbit hutch'

Kenneth Clarke, who has been the Tory MP for Rushcliffe since 1970, said a Conservative government would scrap regional housing targets and abolish the organisations which set them, to allow local councils to decide.

"There is no way you will get an unopposed planning application - even for a rabbit hutch - in this constituency," Mr Clarke told the gathering at Pierrepont Gamston Primary School in early April.

We must have affordable housing
Andrew Clayworth, Labour candidate

He said the plan to build 12,000 homes in the borough was "much better resolved by a debate between the elected representatives in Rushcliffe Borough Council."

The government has set a target for the 12,000 new homes to be completed in the borough by 2026.

Controversial plans to build 1,200 new homes at Sharphill Wood in Edwalton have already been given the go-ahead.

Rushcliffe Borough Council had originally turned down that scheme but the decision was overturned by the secretary of state for communities.

Liberal Democrat candidate Karrar Khan said his party would also abandon housing targets, which he believes are driven by the needs of developers.

But Labour candidate Andrew Clayworth said the need for new housing had to be recognised.

"People have got to live somewhere so the targets are laid down - we must have affordable housing."

The candidate for the UK Independence Party, Matthew Faithful, said ultimately the European Union was responsible for the housing targets, which were then rubber-stamped by the government.

Green Party candidate Richard Mallender said the threat to prime agricultural land would have huge implications.

He said the decision to approve the plan would result in more food imports "so we can build houses that we don't really need".

It is expected that a final plan could be in place by December next year.

The candidates for Rushcliffe are: Conservative: Kenneth Clarke; Liberal Democrats: Karrar Khan; Labour: Andrew Clayworth; UKIP: Matthew Faithful; Green Party : Richard Mallender

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