Headlines: August 22nd, 2006

THINK TANK CRITICISES SOUTH EAST HOUSEBUILDING PLANS

 

The Government needs to re-think the ambition of its plans for housing in the ‘Growth Areas’ of South East England. This is the main finding from a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research. In the report ‘Would you live here? Making the Growth Areas communities of choice’ it argues that the planned build of 200,000 homes by 2016 should be increased by a further 217,000. The growth areas are The Thames Gateway, Milton Keynes and South Midlands, the London, Stanstead, Cambridge, Peterborough corridor and Ashford.

The extra cost of providing the infrastructure necessary to build an additional 217,000 homes is 300m pounds a year until 2016. The proposed Planning Gain Supplement should provide some of the revenue to meet these costs.

The report also warns that the ‘Growth Areas’ must not contribute to urban sprawl and recommends that their boundaries be preserved in order to protect green-field land, meaning that more land within these areas must be allocated for housing. The report also stresses the importance of building the kind of ‘mixed communities’ that people on higher and lower incomes will want to live in and warns that the ‘Growth Areas’ must not become the ‘sink estates’ of tomorrow.

The report expresses concern about cost cutting when it comes to providing local public services and transport infrastructure. It is also essential that there are public spaces, like football pitches, parks and playgrounds and communal facilities, such as community centres and youth clubs. Public services such as schools, health centres and Sure Start childcare centres should be delivered alongside residential developments.