Mayoral candidates must look beyond brownfield, report says

Reports that a study has concluded that London's mayoral candidates must look beyond building only on brownfield land in order to meet the capital's housing needs feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Evening Standard yesterday reported that the next mayor of London must "think the unthinkable" and encourage building on green belt land "to have any chance of hitting the 50,000 new homes a year target needed to solve the housing crisis, a major new report says". According to the newspaper, the report, carried out by planning consultancy Quod for housing charity Shelter, "warns that redundant ‘brownfield’ sites cannot possibly deliver the housebuilding explosion that all the main mayoral candidates have promised to deliver if elected on 5 May". The report "concludes that a 'not credible' equivalent of four brownfield mega-developments a year on the scale of the Olympic Park in Stratford would be needed to reach the target", the newspaper says.

The Times (subscription required) covers today’s news that NHS England has announced it will support 10 "healthy new towns". According to the newspaper, the announcement means that the NHS will start "urban planning for the first time". Proposals could see adventure playgrounds become a standard feature of street designs "and fast-food-free zones would be enforced near schools", the newspaper reports. It says that Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, wants the developments to be modern versions of the Edwardian garden cities.

The Guardian reports that a "sleepy corner of rural Kent" has become an unlikely battleground "as the potential site for telecoms masts as high as the Shard skyscraper in London that will enable high-speed trading firms to make millions". According to the newspaper, Vigilant Global and New Line Networks want to build communications towers to "shave milliseconds off the time it takes to make multimillion-dollar trades". But the newspaper reports: "Their proposals have been met with dismay by locals, who are opposed to the idea of ‘eyesore’ masts in their neighbourhood."

The Guardian also reports that work is nearing completion on what will soon be Europe’s largest floating solar power farm - "and briefly the world’s biggest". It adds: "But few are likely to see the 23,000 solar panels on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir at Walton-on-Thames, which is invisible to all but Heathrow passengers and the residents of a few flats in neighbouring estates". According to the newspaper, putting solar panels on water for the 6.3MW scheme has not required planning permission, "though big arrays of panels on land require official sanction".

The Independent reports that online retailer Amazon has jumped into the "ferocious pit of online groceries that even the big four - Tesco, Sainsbury’s Asda and Morrisons - have struggled to make profitable". According to the newspaper, Amazon yesterday revealed that it has teamed up with Morrisons to sell food through its Pantry site, "even offering fresh food to its Prime Now delivery service customers in five English cities".

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