Letter: A recipe for nimbyism

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The Independent Online
ROSS CLARK's piece "Why we should build more houses in the countryside, not fewer" (17 January) contains some misunderstandings. His contempt for continental-style urban living is a mildly xenophobic manifestation of England's love affair with a false rural idyll and the middle class's fear of living anywhere near poor people. In contrast, the Compact City is a prosperous, socially inclusive city in which new development is welcomed.

The Government's commitment to brownfield development, claims Clark, is to retain rural New Labour votes. But the plight of livestock farmers and declining rural estates is not affected by new suburban housing. Neither are these people Blair voters. Indeed, many welcome greenfield development. Clark suggests that brownfield development means housing built on toxic land. In fact, residential development has high standards for soil and groundwater quality. Clark likens housing quotas to Soviet centralised planning. In fact, the housing quota system has been criticised for being too market-led. Clark's proposal to abolish quotas and have local juries control housing development is a recipe for the nimbyism he criticises.