Ruffley attacks Regional house building targets for Suffolk: 'No infrastructure to support the houses and no protection for the environment means these plans are mad'

Tuesday, 1 November, 2005

The Examination in Public (EiP) of the draft East of England Plan began today in Ely, Cambridgeshire and is due to last four months.

The draft Plan, developed by the East of England Regional Assembly includes controversial proposals on house building. The Plan includes proposals for a staggering 478,000 new homes across the region, including another 58,000 in Suffolk within the next 16 years.

David said:

'Whilst I accept the need for some new affordable housing the se regional quango targets are completely over the top and unsustainable. With the rising level of marriage breakdown and increasing numbers of single person households we do need more housing units. However, more must be done to develop Brownfield sites in London rather than encourage migration to rural areas. The Government should also be doing more to encourage growth in the North and North East that can more easily sustain new growth.

'I fear a concrete corridor cutting through East Anglia, starting in London and ending in Peterborough.

'This regional plan covers the whole of the East of England and threatens to impose targets on local councils such as Mid Suffolk and St Edmundsbury. This will mean nearly 60,000 new homes in Suffolk and over 15,000 in Mid Suffolk and St Edmundsbury alone.

'This should not even be considered until the resources are in place to give Suffolk better road and rail links as well as new schools and health services. Rural areas, like Suffolk, have been short changed for too long whilst funds have been channelled to urban areas in the North. And now we are being asked to take ever more new houses. This is unsustainable.

'The plan has been drafted by an unelected regional assembly quango, which has confusingly now threatened to remove its support after failing to get assurances from central Government that the funding will be available for improving local infrastructure.

'Sources at the Countryside Agency and English Nature have also warned that the plan poses 'serious risk' of damage to 'nationally important landscapes and habitats'.'