Hostilities break out on the eastern front

The first shots have been fired in the battle to shape the future of the East of England. The regional assembly has accepted the need for almost half a million homes over the next 20 years. Opponents of development have already started venting their anger, while the government's response to the rejection of its request for even more homes is awaited with much interest. Coincidentally, plans for widespread growth in southern Britain were called into question this week by researchers at New Labour's favourite think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research. The institute argues that the last thing the south needs is further growth while it is still struggling to get to grips with pressures such as congestion, maintaining environmental quality and providing enough affordable housing.

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