Building up Berkshire

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A further 40,000 homes have been given the go-ahead in Berkshire, that hotbed of Nimbyism - but only by the narrowest of margins.

The county council's environment committee has given way to pressure from Environment Secretary John Gummer, who demanded that it raised targets.

Even after Tory and Labour councillors joined forces, the higher figures scraped through by only one vote.

Everyone appears to be disappointed, however.

The House Builders Federation estimates that 55,000 new homes are needed up to 2006 to relieve increasing demand. Even the government inspectors who examined the county's plans recommended 48,000 homes.

The Council for the Protection of Rural England is angry that Berkshire will have to provide so much land. It says there is plenty of space for homes on reclaimed sites within London rather than taking over more green fields.