Housing 'threatens to swamp countryside'

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The Independent Online
The countryside is in danger of being "swamped' by new housing while demand for homes in towns and cities is being ignored, a report claims today.

England loses 11,000 rural hectares a year and 20 per cent of the country will be urbanised by 2050 at this rate, the Council for the Protection of Rural England said.

The findings are in a CPRE leaflet published today to coincide with the Government's forthcoming White Paper on housing. "The pressure for new housing development on greenfield sites is enormous - unchecked, it would swamp large areas of rural England," said Neil Sinden, the CPRE's housing campaigner. Labour obtained a leaked copy of the White Paper last week and claimed Tory backbench demands for extra tax relief for homeowners had been rejected by the Government. The Opposition also said a big extension of home ownership was planned despite the stagnant housing market.

Mr Sinden called for the Government to adopt a three-point strategy on housing:

t Increase the number of affordable homes and reduce the amount of land earmarked for private developments;

t Encourage local authorities to plan strategies based on how much land is available, not statistical projections;

t Strengthen the policy of regenerating cities and toughen restrictions on rural building.