Build new homes on fields / Housing density rising

Gerrard Winstanley office at
Sun Jun 26 21:46:56 BST 2005

Build new homes on fields, urges government guru,11026,1502635,00.html

Matt Weaver
Thursday June 9, 2005

Government adviser and planning guru Sir Peter Hall today called for
redundant agricultural land to be released for the development of new
settlements to tackle the housing crisis.

In a new report for the Town and Country Planning Association, Sir
Peter pointed out that 9% of farmland in the congested south-east is
granted European money to be "set aside" and left empty to prevent

Sir Peter, a member of the government's urban task force, said this
land would provide more than enough space to meet the shortfall in
affordable sites for new housing.

Article continues
"The plain conclusion is that we have plenty of land for building,
almost wherever we like."

He added: "We need another new towns programme, not this time to build
new Harlows and Stevenages or Milton Keyneses, but clusters of small
communities along the public transport spines."

In his report, provocatively entitled Land Fetish, Sir Peter also
launched a withering attack on the countryside lobby's resistance to

"The countryside lobby have managed to persuade everyone that the land
is so uniquely valuable that we should strain every sinew, pay any
price to avoid building on it," he said.

He complained that countryside campaigners had encouraged a collective
mental disorder over the use of land in England. "We have made a
festish of land, without considering what we actually need it for," he

Sir Peter even questioned the widely-supported promotion of high
density urban living put forward by the chairman of the urban task
force, Lord Rogers.

Sir Peter pointed out that in the quest for higher densities, new
homes are too noisy, too crowded and built too close to busy roads. He
said: "We should be seriously concerned that we shall be developing
all sorts of inappropriate sites, bad for people who live in them, bad
above all for their children if they have them."

He recommended instead moderately high housing densities that require
more land for development.

Sir Peter said government projections showed that homes would have to
be found for another 3.8m households by 2021. He added it was
"Canute-like" to believe that these trend could be held back.

"If you fail to provide, the result will be escalating house prices,
everyone will suffer, but, as usual, the poor will suffer most," he said.

Housing density rising
6th Jun 2005

The average density of new homes is now 39 dwellings per hectare
(dph), up from 34 dph in 2003 according to the latest government
statistics. The 29 dph figure is a dramatic increase from the
1996-2001 average of just 25 dph.

Yorkshire and the Humber was the only region to record an average new
homes density level of under 30 dph, while London had an average
density of 73 dph

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister statistics show the increase
in average housing density is matched by homes on brownfield land.
Here, average density was 44 dph in 2004.

"Brownfield development is at a record level," said planning minister
Yvette Cooper. "This shows it is possible to build more homes and
protect the countryside at the same time."

In 2004, 67% of new homes including conversions were developed on
brownfield land, however this level has remained unchanged for the
last three years following a year on year increase from 1997 - 2002.

Over 2000-03, London secured the highest proportion of housing on
previously developed land, with 91%.

The East Midlands had the lowest at 49%. 

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