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Map showing key areas for new homes in south east England, plus line graph showing types of homes in England, 1991 to 2026

An acute shortage of affordable homes has led to plans for a massive house-building programme.

Four main areas around London were identified by the government in 2003 as "Areas of Priority" for the building of around 200,000 new houses.

In 2007, Gordon Brown said three million new homes would be built by 2020. And the communities minister said houses would take "priority" over environmental concerns.

A key factor has been a sharp rise in the number of people living alone. The number of single person households is expected to increase from about 22 million in 2007 to around 26 million by 2026.

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