Target outlined in growth area drive

The government wants 170,000 homes delivered in the Milton Keynes-South Midlands growth area by 2021 and at least 100,000 more by 2031, ministers revealed this week.

The ODPM, in its proposed changes to the sub-regional strategy, states that 169,900 homes should be built in the growth area up to 2021 - 63,650 above current targets.

The proposed changes, out for consultation until 23 December, set a provisional target of 103,100 homes for 2021-31. This should be seen as a minimum figure "given the need to respond to the Barker review", the document argues.

The growth area includes Milton Keynes and large parts of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. Government changes to last year's original strategy include higher housing targets in Luton and Northampton and lower growth levels in Kettering and Wellingborough. Leighton Linslade is identified as an additional growth location.

Launching the revision, regeneration minister Lord Rooker said: "This is not a house building programme; it's a community building programme.

Housing expansion in the growth areas must be accompanied by quality infrastructure and services."

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) complained that the consultation is "too vague" on affordable housing and contains no targets for the reuse of brownfield land.

Critics have also argued that the strategy is short on detail of how infrastructure will be delivered. Milton Keynes Council leader Isobel Wilson expressed disappointment at the lack of a funding commitment to reopen the Oxford to Bletchley rail link.

Meanwhile, the government started defending its plan to create an urban development corporation (UDC) in west Northamptonshire at a House of Lords select committee this week.

The CPRE and local campaign groups have voiced objections to moves to designate the UDC using a little-known mechanism via the Lords' hybrid instruments committee.

Secretary of State's Proposed Changes to the Milton Keynes-South Midlands Sub-Regional Spatial Strategy can be viewed via

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