Balls eyes development corporation new town role

Reports that shadow chancellor Ed Balls is to propose the creation of new development corporations to help meet Labour's target for 200,000 new homes a year feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Independent reports that the Labour Party is considering offering councils "financial incentives" to join forces to create new towns as part of new policies to boost housebuilding, if it wins the next general election. Previewing shadow chancellor Ed Balls’ planned speech to the National Housebuilding Council today, the newspaper said that Labour would set up development corporations to oversee the building of new towns, some of which would be garden cities.

The Financial Times (subscription only) has news that countryside lobby group the Campaign to Protect Rural England is on the cusp of announcing that it is not opposed in principle to the practice of shale gas extraction through fracking, and is "realistic and open to debate" on the issue. The newspaper said the lobby group’s cautious support for fracking was likely to delight ministers, who have been "taken aback by the outpouring of hostility" so far shown towards the process.

Elsewhere, the Financial Times (subscription only) reports that traders in north London’s "eternally trendy" Camden Town are concerned that the High Speed Two rail project will cost them hundreds of millions of pounds in lost trade. It says proposals for a link line connecting the new network and existing HS1 route, requiring the replacement of eight local railway bridges, are predicted to have a "devastating effect", particularly on Camden Lock Market.

The Daily Telegraph
brings news that the Prince of Wales’ Duchy of Cornwall estate has written to the residents of the village of Stoke Climsland asserting ownership rights over the mineral deposits beneath their homes. According to the newspaper, the request has ruffled feathers among residents who claim there is no mention of such rights in the deeds of their homes.

The Times
(subscription only) reports that environment secretary Owen Paterson has called for developers to "offset" environmental damage as part of a trade-off between protecting nature and helping the economy to grow. The newspaper said that Paterson had used a speech at think-tank the Policy Exchange to underscore the need for woodland or wetland to sometimes be sacrificed in the interests of new housing or roads.

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