Have your say on new homes and jobs for the region

THE public are being asked for their views on how the region should grow and develop over the next 20 years in a consultation launched today (Wednesday) by the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA). It will help EERA to develop a new target for the num

THE public are being asked for their views on how the region should grow and develop over the next 20 years in a consultation launched today (Wednesday) by the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA).

It will help EERA to develop a new target for the number of new homes and jobs to be planned for in the region between 2011 and 2031.

In this first stage of consultation, EERA is seeking responses to four different approaches to housing and economic growth:

Scenario 1 - 26,060 new homes a year - continuation of existing target and broadly based on the views of local councils in the region.

Scenario 2 - 30,100 new homes a year - promotes growth in areas identified by the Regional Scale Settlement Study published in January 2009. Chelmsford would grow to be a regional city, three medium-sized new settlements of up to 20,000 homes located in Central Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and either Uttlesford or Braintree - and smaller increases in Peterborough, Suffolk and the rest of Essex.

Scenario 3 - 29,970 new homes a year - promotes growth around successful business locations where new jobs are attracting workers. Additional growth is spread over many districts but with a particular focus on Hertfordshire, south Essex and Cambridgeshire.

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Scenario 4 - 33,650 new homes a year - promotes growth where households are projected to grow. It is based on long-term trends such as people living longer and people moving to the region. It focuses the majority of additional growth in Hertfordshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Scenarios 2-4 will test the Government's view that more homes are needed in the region although EERA has already rejected the highest end of the range of new homes being proposed by the Government - about 39,000 new homes a year.

EERA regional planning panel chairman Derrick Ashley, who is a county councillor for Hitchin, said: "We need to plan for new homes so that first-time buyers, young families and others in housing need can buy or rent a home at a price they can afford. Businesses also need the confidence to invest in our region.

"But we also want to protect the environment and the quality of life for existing and future residents of the East of England. New development must be appropriate and supported by Government investment."

Fifteen consultation events are being held across the region. In Comet country they will be at Central Bedfordshire Council Chamber, Priory House, Chicksands on September 8 and Robinson House, Hertfordshire Development Centre, Six Hills Way, Stevenage on September 9, both starting at 7pm.

A place can be booked online at: http://events.eera.gov.uk/conferences/ or contact Jayne Cole, conference organiser, EERA on 01284 729405 or email jayne.cole@eera.gov.uk