Council's homes challenge

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The Independent Online
John Prescott was last night facing a legal challenge over a decision to force West Sussex to accept the building of 12,800 more homes than planners think the county can bear. While the Environment Secretary is battling in Kyoto to save the planet from global warming he was accused of "concreting the countryside" back home.

The Government has issued a directive to West Sussex requiring the council to increase the planned level of new housing in its structure plan from 37,900 to 50,700 by the 2011. An independent panel which endorsed the council's lower figure said the character of West Sussex was "at a critical point".

Announcing the application to the High Court for a judicial review, the council chairman Ian Elliott said more homes would have a devastating effect on the countryside. "The 30,000 people who would live in the extra homes ordered by Mr Prescott would put even more pressure on the road network and significantly add to environmental pollution.''

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