Midlands body hails new housing target

The West Midlands Regional Assembly (WMRA) has welcomed housing targets recommended by an independent panel to the government.

This week, the body urged the secretary of state to respond quickly with draft changes to the regional plan. The examination in public panel recommends a target of 398,000 homes for the region, which is 33,000 more than the WMRA proposed but much lower than the government's preferred target of 445,000.

WMRA director of policy Mark Middleton said: "We are pleased. There is an emphasis on urban regeneration. We are hopeful that the minister will publish draft changes by Christmas."

The Campaign to Protect Rural England cautiously welcomed the guidelines. "We are happy they have not gone for the highest figures, but there will still be increased development in greenfield areas," said policy officer Gerald Kells.

But Home Builders Federation strategic planner James Stevens warned that more houses will be required to tackle shortages. He said: "The evidence regarding housing need and affordability justified a higher figure."

The panel also remained unconvinced by the Middle Quinton eco-town proposal, commenting on the doubtful sustainability of its Warwickshire site.

Campaign group Better Accessible Responsible Development described the advice as a victory for common sense. However, developer St Modwen is still optimistic ahead of the secretary of state's decision.

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