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1.8 Million new homes to be built on Greenfield sites

Guildford, Reigate, Dorking, Esher and Woking 33,125 new homes each year till 2026

Why Housing has become the Top Political priority

Rethink urged on Greenbelt land by Adam Smith Institute

Changes to Planning Policy to develop on Greenbelt in Nottingham, Midlands

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Council approves new housing plan

People opposed to plans to build 1,200 homes on greenbelt land in south Nottinghamshire have vowed to continue their fight.

Rushcliffe Borough Council approved plans for the new homes at Edwalton at a meeting on Thursday night.

A government planning inspector had recommended rejection of the project and some residents believe it will put too much pressure on local services.

The local authority said there will be a public consultation on the plans.

Residents\\\' spokesman Malcolm Baker told BBC News the development will create traffic problems.

\\\"Local roads are full of rat runs and local schools and doctor\\\'s surgeries are full. Any more development in this area is just not on,\\\" he said.

But council officials have reassured residents increased traffic will be accommodated and public transport improved.

House plans 'will hit green belt'

About two million homes will have to be built on greenfield sites to meet the prime minister's plans to tackle the housing shortage, a think tank warns.

Gordon Brown has pledged three million homes will be built by 2020, mainly on previously developed brownfield sites.

But a Social Market Foundation study claims two million homes would have to be built on undeveloped countryside or green belt around cities and towns.

The government reiterated that it plans "robust protection" of the green belt.

Realistic density

Mr Brown has put housing at the top of his agenda since he became prime minister and announced plans to increase the rate of new development.

He told MPs last month: "Putting affordable housing within the reach not just of the few but the many is vital both to meeting individual aspirations and to securing a better future for the country."

But Mr Brown also pledged the government would "continue to protect robustly the land designated as green belt".

We have to face the fact that if we want our kids and our friends' kids to have somewhere to live...those homes are going to have to go somewhere
Ann Rossiter
SMF director

Some 60% of the proposed new homes would be built on brownfield sites under government plans.

But the SMF study suggests even if the new homes were built on a density equivalent to London only 2.1 million would be on brownfield land and this would mean some parks and gardens being paved over.

The report found that on a more realistic housing density, "almost two million homes would need to be built on non-previously developed land".

The SMF concluded: "It will not be possible, even if those living in towns and cities accept the loss of their gardens and parks, to meet the UK's housing needs through previously-developed land alone."


It also suggested that the target of three million homes was "likely to be the minimum needed" as supply was failing to meet demand in a "fundamentally unbalanced" UK housing market.

The SMF also added that the green belt, which was planned to prevent urban sprawl, contains ex-industrial sites and scrubland and "was not as green as people believe".

Simply letting the market rip in areas where it would like to go...won't necessarily put development in the places that will do the most good for everybody
Richard Bate
Green Balance

The think tank suggests there may be a case for reconsidering the future of the green belt which often protects "neither wildlife nor areas of outstanding beauty".

The SMF's director Ann Rossiter said the UK faced "tough choices" in meeting its housing need and had to tackle the "not in my backyard" mentality.

She told BBC Radio Five Live: "We have to face the fact that if we want our kids and our friends' kids to have somewhere to live that's of a decent standard, those homes are going to have to go somewhere.

"And maybe they have to go in the field next to our house, and maybe they have to go near the view that we've always loved - but that's the reality of the situation."

Market forces

But Richard Bate, from planning consultancy Green Balance, said the green belt served a number of crucial purposes.

These included serving as a distinction between town and country, preventing parts of towns and cities becoming derelict and stopping nearby towns and cities merging into each other.

"Simply letting the market rip in areas where it would like to go - very often in green belt areas - won't necessarily put development in the places that will do the most good for everybody in town and country alike," he told Radio 4's Today programme.

Housing and Planning Minister Baroness Andrews said the government believed it was possible to build the homes needed by future generations while protecting the environment and green spaces.

"Our clear priority for development will remain brownfield land - already 74% of new housing is being built on brownfield land, up from 57% in 1997," she said.

Planning permission granted on Greenbelt for 51 homes

RESIDENTS have reacted angrily to approval for 51 new homes on a Billericay green belt site.

The Billericay School, in School Road, won a planning appeal for outline permission to build the homes on the green belt site near the school, in Noak Hill Road.

The school said the sale of the land would pay for a multi-million expansion, including music, arts and drama buildings, and a new sports centre.

But since winning the appeal against Basildon Council, residents, a local environmental group and councillors have claimed it will damage wildlife, burden traffic and put more green belt land at risk.

Peter Tucker, a spokesman for environmental group SOS Billericay, said: “The whole thing is a disaster for the people of Billericay. Extra traffic from builders and eventually new residents’ cars is going to cause a real safety issue as lots of parents park nearby to pick up their children and congest the road.

“There is also wildlife there, including a badger sett and possibly bats, which will be under threat.”

Councillor Kevin Blake, ward member for Billericay East, said the council was weighing up whether to launch an appeal. He said: “This is the tip of the iceberg and I think every bit of green belt in the district is under threat.

“If a developer promises some community asset, like a sports facility, it will have a chance of building homes on green belt.”

Resident Carol Heywood, of Longrise, said: “It’s just sad the wildlife we enjoy could all vanish from there now and it will just be homes. Once the homes are built it will simply be too late to recover what we had.”

But Sue Hammond, headteacher of the Billericay School, said the inspector had agreed all the concerns were answered in the planning proposal.

She said: “The case was won by demonstrating very special circumstances exist to allow development in the green belt. Therefore, no precedent is being set.”

“Wildlife will be protected by the inclusion of an ecology corridor. Independent traffic experts and Essex Highways concluded this development will not significantly increase congestion.”

The Govt's Big push on Housing

The government has placed house building at the top of the political agenda


he Housing Minister Yvette Cooper is expected to give more details of how it will achieve its ambitious targets when she addresses the Labour Party Conference on Thursday.

Earlier in the week, Gordon Brown repeated the bold aspiration that by the next decade 240,000 homes per year will be built in the UK.

Driven by a shortage of new-builds and a massive increase in demand, house prices have risen steadily for the last decade.

This increase in house prices should have encouraged more house building but the graph below shows just how much construction has fallen since the 1960s.

It depends upon the government's will to make the system work because it has not historically been so easy to deliver at a local level. The government needs to sort the problems out.
John Slaughter, director of external affairs at the Home Builders Federation

The main reason for the reduction is that council house-building has collapsed since its 1960s heyday.

However, the house price boom of the last decade has also not encouraged more developments by commercial homebuilders.

The Office for National Statistics predicts that 233,000 new households per year will be created by 2016.

Yet house building is currently running at about 165,000 homes per year.

"If we don't meet the needs of our local communities we will have overcrowding and a failure to help people meet their aspirations," said Kevin Williamson, chief executive of the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit, which was set up last year to advise the government on the level of house building.

Carrots and sticks

The government's diagnosis is that councils are not working hard enough to find land for developers.

This year's Housing Green Paper sets out a range of carrots and sticks for councils, which include:


  • A new housing grant to reward councils that identify land for development

  • A threat to overturn local authorities' planning decisions

  • Using more public sector land for development

"The combination of these measures ought to be effective," said John Slaughter, head of external affairs at the Home Builders Federation.

"It depends upon the government's will to make the system work because it has not historically been so easy to deliver at a local level. The government needs to sort the problems out," he added.

The second target of the government's reforms is house builders who sit on land and do not build on it.

Developers will be required to commence building or risk losing planning permission.

But builders reject the accusation that they are sitting on land.

"Ninety seven percent of these sites were under construction within three months of receiving planning permission. We don't see the need for this policy," said Mr Slaughter.

Affordable housing

The final plank of the government's housing strategy is to provide more affordable housing.

The Green Paper set a target of 25,000 "shared ownership" homes to be built every year, backed by money from the government's Housing Corporation.

Under the schemes, tenants buy part of a property and a housing association, lender, or the government owns the rest.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee earlier this year said these schemes cost £500m a year and were wasting money.

There is a promise of £8bn from the government to pay housing associations to build 180,000 "affordable" homes.

The other half of the money needed will come from housing associations' own resources.

"The government has set a target and the crucial thing is that the investment is there to back it up," a National Housing Federation spokesman said.

The housing associations have questioned whether £8bn will be enough to build these homes.

The message from experts is that the governments measures have a chance of working, but do not expect big changes in the short-term.

"Current regional plans considerably undershoot the level of demand that we are forecasting," Mr Williamson said.

The fact that we are becoming more prosperous means that we are demanding new homes, or even second homes," he added.

The Future areas for House building

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.

House prices compared to wages

House prices have been booming for more than a decade - almost tripling since 1996. The sharp increase has far outpaced wage rises.


The average house now costs more than six times the average wage. In London the figure is closer to nine times.


It has led to fears that many people will not be able to buy a first home, or a larger one.


The typical first time buyer is now 33-years-old and takes five years to save the average £24,000 deposit (rising to £44,000 in London).


It is thought that four out of 10 people buying a first home now rely on parental help.

Homes in the UK Statistics

There are about 25 million homes in the UK, of which seven out of 10 are owner-occupied. The number of home owners has risen by more than one million since 1997 alone.


In 1918, eight out of 10 homes were rented privately, compared with one in 10 now. The number of people in social housing has fallen to fewer than two in 10.


Home ownership is lowest in London (58%) and Scotland (67%). The majority of single parents rent their homes.


Most people live in houses, but large numbers of flats are being built. Homes have improved, but more than a quarter are not properly maintained or constructed.

Latest News

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Planning permission granted on Greenbelt for 51 homes
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