Blueprint details eastern advance

One of the first regional spatial strategies in the latest wave of planning reforms was officially launched this week, proposing major employment-led growth for the East of England.

The blueprint, which is out for public consultation for the next 14 weeks, proposes 478,000 homes and 421,000 jobs between 2001 and 2021 in the region, which stretches from Hertfordshire and Essex to Norfolk and the Wash.

The strategy, which has been drawn up by the East of England Regional Assembly, promises to increase prosperity and employment growth in the region, improve social inclusion and help regenerate disadvantaged areas.

But assembly chief executive Brian Stewart warned that essential infrastructure improvements would be required to support the development. "We are extremely concerned that we are still awaiting the government's response to the region's funding bid for those improvements," he added. "Early positive announcements will be critical to win support for the plan during consultation."

Urban areas are the main focus for development in the region and a brownfield housing target of 60 per cent has been set. Urban extensions are earmarked for Harlow and Stevenage, but the document resists plans for major new settlements. Sub-regional strategies will be drawn up for 14 parts of the region, including Cambridge, Peterborough and Norwich.

The plan also proposes to boost the delivery of affordable housing. It calls for a total of 23,900 affordable homes to be built each year, with proportions varying for different parts of the region depending on exact levels of need.

Assembly head of planning and transport Alan Moore said he is proud of the plan. "It is trying to be a good thing for the whole region," he added.

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England warned that the level of growth advocated in the plan could damage the environment.

Following consultation, the draft strategy will be subject to an examination in public before an independent panel.

East of England Plan can be viewed via

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