UK government unveils development plan for South East England (UK)

A strategy for delivering 654,000 new homes alongside major infrastructure development across the South East of England between now and 2026 was unveiled on Wednesday (May 6, 2009) by UK communities minister Sadiq Khan.

The South East Plan is designed as a framework for sustainable growth that would support long-term economic performance in the region by meeting its housing needs. The plan proposes building 32,700 new homes each year until 2026, with at least 60% built on brownfield land.

It also sets a 35% affordable housing target across the region for all new housing. This was criticized by Robert Fourt, Gerald Eve planning and development partner and viability specialist who said: "The setting of a 35% affordable housing target appears inflexible and does not address the realities of financial viability, in encouraging schemes to be brought forward, particularly in respect of brownfield land."

The plan focuses on the south-east's regional hubs, including five strategic development areas in an arc from South Hampshire through Oxford to Milton Keynes. A further two strategic development areas where specific development opportunities exist will also be pursued at Whitehill/Bordon in Hampshire and Shoreham in West Sussex. The plan deals with the issues of tackling climate change, including flood risks, and protecting the region's natural and historic environment. It also sets out the region's transport strategy and an overall framework for implementation.

No plans for eco-towns are included but will be looked at in the next review.

Also included in the plans is a "stepped range of targets" rising to at least 16% of new developments' energy to be secured from renewable sources.

The plan reveals that the Department for Transport is currently considering proposals by the South East Regional Transport Board to fund 39 major road and public transport schemes in the South East between 2009 and 2015, which would potentially increase expenditure by a further £1.806 bln.

Khan said increasing the supply of housing provision remained "absolutely critical" despite the downturn in the housing market.

Richard Ford Head of Planning at international law firm Pinsent Masons said: "The South East Plan has taken a long time coming, but at least means we can hopefully get on and make some progress on delivery. The key growth points are as expected and give us a sensible focus for growth. The Core Strategies for the various key local authorities now need to progress quickly so we catch up for lost time."

Source: Brown Lloyd James Financial

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