Green party

'Bulldozer' Prescott to concrete over South-East

10 February 2003

Plans to build more than 200,000 new homes across South-East England will destroy acres of countryside and add fuel to the region's overheating economy but fail to solve the growing housing crisis , according to the region's Green MEP Caroline Lucas.

"The Government's plans are outrageous, unworkable and incoherent. New development on this scale will swallow up historic villages and replace great swathes of high quality countryside with concrete and congestion," said Dr Lucas.

The proposals, announced by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott last week, will see thousands of new homes built in villages and greenfield sites surrounding Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire and Ashford in Kent, as well as on brownfield sites along the Thames Estuary.

The 'Sustainable Communities Plan' aims to meet the growing housing shortage in the South-East by building new homes, some of which will be earmarked for keyworkers such as teachers and nurses currently priced out of the capital. At the same time it proposes demolishing thousands of homes in the North of England.

Dr Lucas, Green Party MEP for South-East England, commented: "This approach will lead to more deprivation in the North and spiralling over-development in the South . Our already over-burdened transport, health and education infrastructure will be pushed over the limit by a development of this scale, which will see the population of Milton Keynes almost double and a string of new dormitory towns in Kent.

"By simply meeting projected demand by concreting over the countryside rather than seeking to manage it with a coherent regional development policy the Government will widen the North-South divide and solve nothing."

She added: "The reality is this proposal is not sustainable, will destroy rather than enhance communities and is so short on detail that's its hardly even a plan . "Mr Prescott has failed to adequately consult local communities before making this announcement. This Government claims it is a listening Government - if that is so perhaps it is listening to the construction industry?