Local authorities in a key housing growth areas are expected to vote today to block government plans for extra residential development.
The East of England Regional Assembly is expected to reject a request from the prime minister to build 18,000 extra houses in the Stansted corridor growth area in west Essex. This would be on top of the 478,000 homes earmarked for the region between 2001 and 2021.
The assembly’s planning panel is expected to pass a decision to refuse the extra homes, because local councillors think the region is already overburdened by development.
The move will add to fears that local authorities will thwart deputy prime minister John Prescott’s aim to build 200,000 extra houses in the South-east by 2016.
The agenda for today’s meeting states: “The regional planning panel was minded not to agree to the government’s request for inclusion of an additional 18,000 dwellings in regional spatial strategy 14.” Strategy 14 is the template for development in the east of England.
An insider said the political leaders in the region had caved in to pressure from councillors, and suggested the decision could have serious consequences for the deliverability of the communities plan.
The source said: “This goes to the heart of the communities plan. Other councils will see what is going on here and ask why they should have to deliver their quota.”
This goes to the heart of the plan. Other councils will ask why they should have to deliver their quota
East of England Assembly insider
The government’s request to build the extra homes in west Essex followed a meeting in January of the government committee for the Thames Gateway, which is chaired by Tony Blair.
The committee decided that the housing target for the Thames Gateway was too high and that houses would have to be built in other areas, including west Essex.
Later in January, housing minister Lord Rooker met the assembly panel to request adding the extra homes to its quota. However, councils in the east of England reacted strongly to the request for extra homes, with Tory councillors in several local authorities in Hertfordshire and Essex pledging to oppose the plans.
If the East of England Regional Assembly passes the motion today as expected, it will be rubber-stamped at a meeting on 5 November.