A group of 13 council leaders, business people and charity heads is to meet for the first time today to work out how the South-east can combine 200,000 extra homes with sustainable development, as required by John Prescott's communities plan.
Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, the leader of Kent council, will chair the Commission on Sustainable Development in the South East.

He said: "The South-east is the economic powerhouse of the UK. The challenge is to maintain this success while protecting the Countryside, ensuring effective transport and enhancing people's quality of life."

The commission, which is run by the Institute for Public Policy Research, will look at how new transport infrastructure can be paid for and will work on how problems such as pollution and flooding can be addressed.

Among the members of the commission are Nick Pearce, the director of the IPPR, Nick Skellett, the South-East England regional assembly chair, and Nick Townsend, legal director of Wilson Bowden.

They will be joined by Baroness Barbara Young, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, Bob Davies, the chairman of transport company Arriva and Richard Shaw, chief executive of Oxfordshire council.

The commission, which is being funded by the South-east counties and PriceWaterhouse Coopers, will meet every two months and produce an interim report in the sping.