Think-tank housing figures 'highly doubtful'

PUBLISHED: 09:31 29 June 2008 | UPDATED: 15:48 11 May 2010

Cllr Derrick Ashley

Cllr Derrick Ashley

THE East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) is concerned over advice by a Government think-tank suggesting that the number of houses in the region might have to nearly double over the next 20 years. The National Housing and Planning Advice Unit said that

THE East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) is concerned over advice by a Government think-tank suggesting that the number of houses in the region might have to nearly double over the next 20 years.

The National Housing and Planning Advice Unit said that despite current problems in the housing market, the East of England might need up to 486,000 homes by 2020.

This is 165,000 more than set out in the East of England Plan which was published by the Government in May.

The think-tank cited the long-term increase in house prices, and changes in how we live, as key factors in its recommendations to Government on possible housing growth for the region.

But Derrick Ashley, chairman of EERA's regional planning panel and executive member for planning on Herts County Council said: "These figures must be regarded as highly doubtful.

"We have continually pointed out to the Government that housing growth in the region would only happen if the jobs and infrastructure are provided, and we can't see where the money would be found to support this level of growth, even if it was judged to be sustainable.

"The figures also rely on projecting forward extremely high levels of migration, an issue on which the Government itself has said it intends to reduce."

The think-tank's advice includes options for housing numbers ranging from 30,600 homes-a-year up to 43,000 homes-a-year while current plans for the region are 27,000 homes-a-year.

The think-tank's figures have been passed to Government, which will decide whether the regional assembly should use them for testing in a review of existing plans for the region.

Last week, Herts County Council mounted a legal challenge over the East of England plan.

The move to a High Court battle has gained the support of North Herts District Council.

Cllr Richard Thake, the district council's portfolio holder for planning and transport, said the plan would have "huge implications" on North Herts.

"I believe it would be a dereliction of our duty if we did not support such a challenge," he said.

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