Draft regional spatial strategy plans over 33,000 new homes each year, against local objections

The government has pushed ahead with attempting to force increased housebuilding in the South-east over the next 20 years, despite fierce local opposition.

In its draft regional spatial strategy, published yesterday, the government said the region should plan for 33,125 new homes each year, 15% more than the number called for by local politicians.

The number is also 4% higher than the 32,000 annual homes figure recommended by the independent planning inspector. Some 35% of the homes should be affordable, it said.

The government said the new homes are needed to ensure the continued economic growth of the region, with over 35,000 new households predicted to form each year until 2026. It said the average age of a first-time buyer has already been forced up to 33 because homes are so unaffordable.

Announcing the consultation, communities minister Parmjit Dhanda said: “Beyond the short-term squeeze of the credit crunch the number of new households are still outgrowing the number of homes being built - first-time buyers are getting older and more people are choosing to live alone.

“If more homes are not built now for the long term the housing ladder will get even further out of reach, leaving the next generation with nowhere to live.”

However, rural campaigners have already hit out at the announcement. Edward Dawson, CPRE director for the South-east region, said the proposals pose a “major threat to the quality of life of all those who live in the region”.

He said: “There must be a limit to urban expansion in the South-east region, whose natural environment is already suffering from unsustainable pressures. Such high levels of housing development are not sustainable.

“The consequent pressures on infrastructure, such as transport and water, and the land, including the risk of losing large areas of valued countryside and green belt, would be intolerable.”

The government is consulting on the plans until 24 October. They are available at: http://www.go-se.gov.uk