Kent could be spared the impact of London’s population overspill, according to the politician who wants to become the next Conservative London mayor.
Zac Goldsmith MP, the Conservative prospective candidate in next May’s election, said London had enough space to absorb the demand for new homes.
His comments came in a speech to the party conference and appeared to contradict the recommendations of a report commissioned by Boris Johnson.
That suggested the capital’s need for more homes could be addressed by building 215,000 in Medway, Canterbury, Dover and Thanet.
"We can build the homes London needs without destroying the green spaces we love...” - Zac Goldsmith MP, London mayoral candidate
The figure led to an angry response from Kent council leaders, who said it would be wrong for the areas to be forced to absorb more homes - on top of the number of new homes already identified in their own local plans.
Mr Goldsmith said: “Contrary to what some believe, there is no shortage of land. And specifically, there is no shortage of brownfield land.
"We can build the homes London needs without destroying the green spaces we love.”
He went on to say that an improving economy in London meant that the city was seen as a safe bet for investors but developers should not be permitted to build homes as an investment opportunity.
“The answer is not easy. But it is simple. We need to build.”
Canterbury City council leader Simon Cook welcomed the comments.
He said: “I think people in London would prefer to continue to live there rather than commuting from Kent.
"I would not want to stop anyone from coming to Kent to live but equally it is a case of having the right houses in the right places.”
Boris Johnson’s advisers suggested that east Kent was ripe for denser development but the deputy mayor Sir Edward Lister denied it meant Kent would be forced to take extra homes.