Monday, March 22 2004

An interview with the Observer newspaper has confirmed John Prescott’s plans for developing the south east, as the Deputy Prime Minister called for a ‘step change’ in housebuilding.

The targets he is setting are high: between 220,000 and 260,000 new homes a year are to be built, mostly on brownfield sites, but some on greenfield sites, a move which will anger some rural lobby groups.

To achieve these high targets, Mr Prescott has confirmed he will reform planning laws to make them more relaxed and to allow the houses to be built, some of which will be ‘social housing’ – affordable housing for people unable to get on the property ladder.

Mr Prescott said: ‘The most important thing is to keep numbers up. We need to keep sustainability in housing and get a more moderate increase in prices. We inherited a growing crisis in housing: prices?roaring ahead faster than earnings, and people’s ability to pay.’

However The Council for the Protection of Rural England has objected to the plans, saying it is not just the number of properties available which affect house prices and that other factors should be taken into account.

Julie Stantion from the CPRE said: There is a real danger that the Government’s energetic pursuit of results – regardless of the wider consequences – could outpace examination of the facts.’