Published: 15:18, 06 May 2009
By Political Editor Paul Francis
Plans for tens of thousands of homes to be built across Kent and the south east until 2026 have been given the green light by the Government.
Ministers have announced they are endorsing the South East Plan, a planning blueprint for the region that sets out house-building targets for Kent and other areas.
It will mean 32,700 homes will be built each year across the region over the lifetime of the plan.
Local authorities had argued for a lower house-building target of 28,900, but that has not been accepted.
The adoption of the plan means Kent and Medway can expect to see 6,970 homes built each year as their allocation of the regional target - the equivalent of nearly 140,000 new homes.
The draft plan originally set out a figure for Kent that would have equated to a much lower figure of 105,700. That then rose to 115,280 after a public inquiry into the plan, finally reaching today's figure following the Government's decision to agree to the targets.
The Government, which delivered its verdict on the plan today, said the target would enable the region to tackle housing shortages and increase the prospects of those currently priced out of the market to get a foot on the housing ladder.
About a third of the new homes will have to be affordable housing and 60 per cent will have to be built on brown field sites, previously-developed land.
Making the announcement, the minister for the South East and Kent MP Jonathan Shaw said that despite the economic downturn, demand for housing remained high and was a criticial issue for many people.
"We know that the population in the South East is ageing with more people living alone and new households are growing faster than new homes. If we don’t build more houses in the long term older people will have fewer choices, and the housing ladder will get even further out of reach leaving the next generation with nowhere to live.
"The South East Plan sets out an achievable vision for improving economic growth and addressing housing shortages while protecting the region’s distinctive character and environment."
The Plan deals with the key issues of tackling climate change, including flood risks, and protecting the region's natural and historic environment. It also sets out the region’s transport strategy and an overall framework for implementation.
Statistics suggest the region’s population is continuing to grow more quickly than the national average, with people living longer and increasingly choosing to live alone. The latest statistics show the number of households in the region is projected to grow by some 39,000 each year over the next 25 years.