Where should new homes be built?

RESIDENTS throughout the East of England are being asked how the region should develop over the next 20 years as pressure mounts for more than 500,000 homes to be built in the six counties.

Graham Dines

RESIDENTS throughout the East of England are being asked how the region should develop over the next 20 years as pressure mounts for more than 500,000 homes to be built in the six counties.

The East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) yesterday launched a consultation process to find out how the public react to annual quotas of between 26,060 and 33,650 new homes until 2031.

An option for 30,100 homes would involve Chelmsford growing to become a regional city, three medium-sized new settlements of up to 20,000 homes being located in central Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and either Uttlesford or Braintree, and smaller increases in Peterborough, Suffolk and the rest of Essex.

EERA's regional planning panel chairman Derrick Ashley said: “We need to plan for new homes so that first-time buyers, young families and others in housing need can buy or rent a home at a price they can afford. Businesses also need the confidence to invest in our region.

“But we also want to protect the environment and the quality of life for existing and future residents of the East of England. New development must be appropriate and supported by Government investment.

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“We will look closely at all the responses to the consultation before publishing, in March 2010, a detailed plan for how many new homes are needed up to 2031.”

Mr Ashley added: “Although there may be changes to the planning system in the years ahead, the evidence gathered will be valuable for the continuing need to plan for new jobs and homes.”

The public consultation is part of a wider review of the East of England Plan which covers policies on transport, the environment, energy and waste as well as new homes.

Fourteen meetings will be held to explain the plans, including tonight at 7pm in Essex Records Office, Wharf Road, Chelmsford and on September 16 at Suffolk County Council's Endeavour House headquarters in Ipswich.

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