Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Long-term plans for growth in the South East unveiled

Long-term plans for growth in the South East unveiled

COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT News Release (101) issued by COI News Distribution Service on 6 May 2009

A strategy for delivering the new homes, jobs and infrastructure the South East needs until 2026 was announced by Communities Minister Sadiq Khan today.

The South East Plan sets out a framework for sustainable growth that will support long-term economic performance in the region by encouraging the provision of new job opportunities and meeting the region's housing needs.

The Plan deals with the key 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.

Increasing the supply of housing provision remains absolutely critical despite the current difficulties in the housing market and challenging economic outlook. The Plan sets out to deliver 654,000 new homes until 2026 to meet the region's long-term housing needs.

The South East population is continuing to grow more quickly than the national average with people living longer and increasingly choosing to live alone. The latest statistics show the number of households in the region is projected to grow by some 39,000 each year over the next 25 years.

The gap between average house prices and average wages in the region has also widened and there are some 200,000 households in the region registered for social housing. The Plan sets out a target that 35 per cent of the new housing provision must be affordable.

The Plan focuses growth in the South East's regional hubs, including five strategic development areas in an arc from South Hampshire through Oxford to Milton Keynes.

Plans for a high-quality transport system that will act as a catalyst for economic growth are set out in the Plan. The transport strategy aims to re-balance the system in favour of sustainable modes, such as public transport, walking and cycling, to improve the quality of life for all local residents. Total public expenditure on transport in the South East has increased over the last five years by 18per cent, from £1.9 billion in 2002/03 to £2.3 billion in 2007/08.

Sadiq Khan said:

"The South East needs a long term strategy to strengthen the economy, address housing shortages and tackle the threat of climate change.

"The number of households in the South East is growing rapidly with housing supply lagging behind and housing affordability worsening. Despite the current difficulties in the market we need to keep up with the rise in demand and provide more homes.

"The South East Plan sets out an achievable long term vision for the area that promotes growth while protecting the countryside and the environment."

Minister for the South East Jonathan Shaw said:

"We know that the population in the South East is ageing with more people living alone and new households are growing faster than new homes. If we don't build more houses in the long term older people will have fewer choices, and the housing ladder will get even further out of reach leaving the next generation with nowhere to live.

"The South East Plan sets out an achievable vision for improving economic growth and addressing housing shortages while protecting the region's distinctive character and environment."

Publication of the final Plan follows a comprehensive public consultation and independent examination process.

The Plan supports the implementation of the existing Regional Economic Strategy with its emphasis on raising skills, economic diversification and a move towards a knowledge-based economy.

It also provides a regional policy framework for major transport, waste and environmental issues in the South East.

Tackling the threat of climate change is a key concern to support national targets to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Therefore the Plan sets a challenging target of at least 16 per cent of electricity being derived from renewable sources by 2026.

Notes to editors

1. Summary of key points in the Plan:

* Higher housing growth to deliver 32,700 new homes each year until 2026 to address household growth and affordability issues in the region. At least 60 per cent should be built on Brownfield land.

* A range of affordable housing targets across the region with 35 per cent of all new housing across the region affordable.

* Inclusion of a stepped range of targets rising to at least 16 per cent of new developments' energy to be secured from renewable sources.

* A modern transport system that supports the economy and improves accessibility to and within the region is a priority. The Plan sets out priorities for future investment in transport infrastructure and promotes better use and management of existing assets.

* DfT are 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 billion.

* 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.

* No changes to the existing broad extent of the Green Belt, which should be retained and supported. In order to meet housing and infrastructure needs in the most sustainable locations, selective reviews of the Green Belt are required in north-east Guildford and in the Oxford Green Belt south of the city.

* Eco-towns are not part of the Plan but will be looked at in the next review.

2. The Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) for the South East replaces Regional Planning Guidance for the South East (RPG9) which was issued in 2001. It also replaces a number of partial reviews to RPG9 that were carried out since 2001.

3. The South East England Regional Assembly submitted a draft revision of the RSS to Government in March 2006. Following public consultation, this was considered by an independent Panel at an Examination in Public that was held between November 2006 and March 2007. The Panel's report, which recommended many changes, was published in August 2007. Proposed Changes to the draft RSS, taking into account these recommendations, were published by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in July 2008. These were subject to a twelve-week public consultation ending in October 2008.

4. Copies of the final version of the South East Plan have been placed in the libraries of both Houses of Parliament and are being sent to all South East MPs, MEPs, local authorities and the South East England Partnership Board (which took over from the South East England Regional Assembly on 1 April 2009). Other stakeholders will be advised how to obtain a copy. The Plan will also be available for public inspection at local authority offices and libraries across the region during normal working hours.

5. From approximately 9.30am on 6 May, the Plan and all related documents will also be available to download from the Government Office for the South East's website http://www.gos.gov.uk/gose/planning/regionalPlanning.

6. The latest 2006-based household projections were published by Communities and Local Government on 11 March 2009 and are available at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/corporate/statistics/2031households0309. These new projections will be taken into account during the preparation of the forthcoming single Regional Strategy.

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