GOVERNMENT HOUSEBUILDING plans in south east England have been slashed this week because of local authority fears that infrastructure would not be able to cope.
The South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA) voted to cut government targets for new homes by 80,000, after local authorities said a £30bn investment in infrastructure would be needed to handle the expansion.
Deputy prime minister John Prescott had envisaged 720,000 homes be built in the region by 2026. But at a meeting on Monday, a new maximum of 640,000 was agreed.
'We are delighted to have seen off the government's illconceived ambition, ' said Kent County Council leader Sir Sandy Bruce Lockhart.
'Now we need ministers to give a clear commitment to invest in the infrastructure that will be needed to ensure the new homes are actually delivered.'
The revised proposals allow for the current new build rate of 25,500 homes per year to be increased to 28,000 or 32,000.
Oxfordshire County Council leader Keith Mitchell said 'creaking infrastructure' was the driving force behind the reduction.
'The government must invest in roads, rail, water supply and sewerage, as well as schools and hospitals.
'There's huge congestion on the road network and the rail network is pretty much at capacity.
'How do all these extra people get around the south east? That's the sort of question we are putting to government, ' he said.
'We need investment of £1.5bn a year.'
The amended plan will now go out for consultation in January.
Prescott will make the final decision.