Extra 140,000 homes planned for South

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, is planning another 140,000 homes for southern England.

The houses are to be built in the Solent Gateway area, between Southampton and Portsmouth.

The plans come on top of proposals for 200,000 homes along the Thames Gateway in East London, Ashford in Kent, the M11 corridor in Essex and Milton Keynes, Bucks.

There are already plans for 780,000 new homes across the South-East but the Government believes there will be a 1.1 million shortfall by 2020.

Keith Hill, the housing minister in the previous government, gave a recent interview in a publication on urban regeneration, complaining that councils in the South-East had not found enough space for new housing.

He added: "We are disappointed that the South-East has set lower housing targets. I am beginning to think not only in terms of the Thames Gateway but also the Solent Gateway."

The Office for the Deputy Prime Minister yesterday confirmed that it was in talks with local authorities on the south coast and was hoping the scheme would include around 140,000 new homes.

A spokesman for the department said: "It is up to local and regional planning authorities to decide how much housing they need but we accept there is a need for extra new housing in the region. It is just a question of where.

"We are just at the discussion stage but we are very positive about this area."

Southampton city council confirmed that it had plans for 50,000 new homes under the Gateway scheme, around the towns of Gosport and Fareham and on the edges of Southampton and Ports-mouth. It has just completed public consultations on plans for another 80,000 homes in the area.

Barbara Compton, the head of housing strategy at Southampton, said: "This plan is driven by the need for economic growth, which is below the national average here."

Mr Prescott's housing plans have been controversial, particularly in deprived areas in the north where millions of pounds for the regeneration of "Pathfinder Communities" has involved tearing down Victorian housing.

In the South-East, an over-heating market for housing has prompted the accelerated development of homes in Kent and Essex, but the proposals have been controversial where they involve building on greenfield sites.

The Thames Gateway plans have been less controversial because they are largely on previously developed, brownfield sites.

telegraph, 09/05/05

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