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Government may appeal after housing blow

The Government is considering appealing a High Court judgement which could delay the construction of thousands of new homes in the east of England.

The court last week ruled the Government’s strategic policy for the development of three significant areas in Hertfordshire was flawed.

The East of England Plan – published in May 2008 – identified Hemel Hempstead, Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield as “key centres for development and change”.

But High Court judge Mr Justice Mitting told ministers the policy must be quashed and reconsidered.

He said alternatives to housing, and the impact on green field sites and the Green Belt, had not been properly considered before the major strategy was adopted.

Under EU directives and environmental assessment regulations, it is required that all reasonable alternatives to green field site developments be evaluated.

A spokesman for Communities and Local Government said: “We are disappointed with this judgment which concerns just one part of the plan and are currently considering whether to appeal.

“The need for more homes has not gone away and we are determined to deliver.”

The East of England Plan sets out how the region is to change over the next 20 to 30 years, including a requirement for Hertfordshire to provide at least 83,200 homes in the period up to 2021.

The ruling was a victory for Hertfordshire County Council and St Albans City Council, which had expressed alarm at the scale and pace of development being considered for the county.

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