Lilley Attacks "Independent" Plans For Housing Expansion Without Infrastructure

Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden has condemned the report of a Government Panel which calls for even higher housing targets and further building on the Green Belt in North Hertfordshire and St Albans Districts.

Mr Lilley attacked the report for trying to undermine the condition previously insisted upon by the East of England Regional Assembly - that the Government's house building targets should not be accepted until the Government promises to fund the necessary infrastructure. And he called for a frank analysis of how many houses were needed because the existing population are living in smaller households and how many are the result of an increase in population driven by net immigration into this country. Peter said, “The same population living in smaller households will obviously need very little extra water, schools, hospitals or other infrastructure. A larger population will need more water, schools, hospitals etc. Until this Government is prepared to provide the extra infrastructure that population growth demands or start to restrain rather than encourage net immigration, these reports are not worth the paper they are written on.”

Commenting on the report produced by the Government appointed Panel for an Examination in Public into the draft East of England Plan prepared by the East of England Regional Assembly, Peter said, “The report supports plans to build 15,800 homes in North Hertfordshire and recommended that an additional 5,700 homes be built between St Albans and Hemel Hempstead. It calls for land to be released from the Green Belt in both North Herts and St Albans Districts. The authors also undermine previous insistence by the EERA that the local housing targets should only be approved alongside additional spending on necessary infrastructure. Already the state of disrepair on our roads is something that the local council are receiving great deal of complaints about, and it will be hard to improve maintenance even on current traffic and spending projections.”

“That infrastructure is seen as such a low priority just indicates how out of touch this Government appointed panel is. But they recommend that instead of the proposals by EERA for a link between infrastructure and housing numbers a (presumably unelected) “regional co-ordinating body” should be created to monitor and upgrade infrastructure as it thinks necessary. But just like this Panel, whatever the Government comes up with to oversee infrastructure improvements will mainly be concerned with approving more housing regardless of whether or not Hertfordshire can cope with it.”

“The Government should address one of the key reasons we need more housing and infrastructure, which is that they are allowing immigration into the country at unprecedented levels; in 2004 net immigration was running at 223,000 per year. While most immigrants are hard working and decent people, we simply do not have the space to accommodate all those who want to come here. The Government must be honest about the trade off that we face in this area, not sweep it under the carpet and rely on unelected bodies to push forwards the unpopular but inevitable effects of its immigration policies.”

“The Government implies that extra housing is not due to extra immigration but the general fall in household size. To the extent this is true then additional housing needs almost little additional infrastructure. But the Government itself acknowledges that a third of all households being created within the UK are due to net immigration. And additional people require additional water, electricity, schools and hospitals – hence the importance of getting the infrastructure for any new building right and why it is crucial the Government stop pretending its policies are not creating additional infrastructure and housing needs.”

Peter Lilley MP, 27.06.2006

Further Press Releases »