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Countryside to be concreted over in housebuilding surge

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Rural campaigners have warned that up to 10,000 acres of green belt land will be built over to meet the Government’s current house building targets.

As part of its saving and investment stake in the nation’s housing stock, the Government is practically forcing local authorities to destroy previously protected land to meet its nationally agreed targets.

Huge tracts of land have already been identified for development – including designated green belt land which has hitherto limited urban sprawl – with developers snapping up sites ahead of the Government White Paper to relax rural protection rules.

Major landowners are expected to make billions by selling off their stock to developers and this process is being repeated on smaller scale across the country as developers make a UK investment in prime building land.

Typical is the village of Writtle, near Chelmsford in Essex. A plan for 500 homes on farmland at the edge of the village has galvanised campaigners who do not wish to see the integrity of their home destroyed.

“This development will mean that we join up with the town of Chelmsford and lose our local identity,” said one resident. “The character of the place will be ruined and we intend to fight this proposal tooth and nail.”

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Many villages will be engulfed by housing, several towns would nearly double in size and others would effectively join up to create new conurbations.

“This is a time of unprecedented change in the countryside.”




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