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MPs push for housing infrastructure planning

Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs will today try to force changes to the new planning law ‘to protect Britain’s countryside’ from the effects of new infrastucture developments.

Nick Herbert is urging planning minister Nick Boles to introduce requirements that will force town planners to consider infrastructure needs when deciding whether to approve new housing projects. A group of 20 MPs is backing the move, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Mr Herbert said that not enough consideration is being given to requirements for roads, sewers and schools in small towns and villages to ensure that the countryside doesn’t suffer from new development.

“The reality is that in the Sixties, nearly three quarters of England was undisturbed by development. Today, urban sprawl and the roads it brings intrudes across more than half of the country,” Mr Herbert writes in an editorial published on his website.

“It’s the casual loss of this England, the quiet countryside around our towns and villages that people worry about. Perhaps some home owners do try to protect their backyards. But most of us care about the countryside whether we can see it from our window or not.

“There’s nothing selfish about wanting to conserve it for its own sake and for future generations.”

The community infrastructure levy requires developers to pay towards a town or city’s infrastructure needs in order to obtain planning permissions. But Mr Herbert believes that the CIL does not go far enough because it does not require planners to ensure that roads, school places and sewage systems will be there when development is permitted.

This is particularly true in his home constituency of Arundel and South Downs, where heavy rain has caused sewage to run onto the streets.

“Sewage is the most extreme symptom of an even more common problem – a lack of infrastructure to support development. Residents move into new homes, only to discover that the local schools are oversubscribed. Roads which may have been adequate in a village become congested in what is now a small town.”

The Growth and Infrastructure Bill is due to be debated in the House of Commons later today.

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