Kent Messenger Extra 13 April 2001 - LETTERS Page 36

The wrong houses in the wrong places

The Government's planning guidance requires Kent to build more than 6,000 houses a year or nearly 122,769 over the next two decades.

Because of the limited availability of brownfield land, at least 50,000 will be built on green fields. In Kent, it will mean the permanent destruction of villages and market towns.

Yet far from resulting in a shortfall of homes as central planning advocates suggest, many of these houses are not needed at all. Approximately half will be occupied by people moving out of the major conurbations of London and the North.
To encourage this migration is to encourage the decline of our inner cities and to extend the North-South divide.

Every family moving out of the cities into the countryside of Kent means a school roll declining in the inner city, a shop nearer closure in the inner city and the crime rate rising in the inner city. Our challenge is to rebuild our cities, not to destroy our countryside.

The housebuilding commitment has not been matched by any plan for infrastructure. Kent is already one of the most congested areas in Britain. New houses imply a need for new roads, new school places and new hospital beds. This is at a time when Kent schools are reduced to four day weeks because of teacher shortages, and when we continue to await a decision from John Prescott for transport improvements.
Whilst I welcome the announcement of hospital improvements in both Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone, these will be insufficient for the increased population.

The county council has estimated that the 30,000 houses planned for Dartford and Gravesham will require 296 million for the associated community infrastructure.
Yet the Government has made no mention of funding for these provisions.

Furthermore, the house building policy is completely at odds with the Government's approach to transport and public services which is designed to discourage commuting and to channel investment away from the South East as a whole.

Even the Government's own projections of housing need demonstrate that we are building the wrong houses in the wrong places.

The next Conservative Government will give back to the people of Kent the chance to decide upon the number of houses to be built locally.

Archie Norman, MP for Tunbridge Wells,
House of Commons, London

Archie Norman's support for the neighbours of Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells:
"The final plans please no-one: neither local councillors, residents nor the developers".

A guide through Tunbridge Wells Local Press since August 2000 - "The Telephone House Debacle"

The Telephone House Neighbours Association, Tunbridge Wells
The aims are to heighten peoples' awareness and concern for the high-density development on Telephone House site,
Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1.