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Housing schemes in the last-chance saloon

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Letters

Faced with considerable disadvantages over the South, the northern local authorities are correct to resist housing schemes (AJ 18.9.03). Extending northern towns in the present dilemma, with lesser job prospects and little regeneration, would not be a step forward for their environment generally.

Just as meaningless from the point of view of urban wellbeing are the South East and Thames Gateway developments, which must irritate our northern authorities albeit for the wrong reasons.

Creating huge swathes of modern suburb from Corby to Kent Thameside keeps politicians and developers buoyant and provides decades of employment, historically in the short term only.

In the long term, however, it is unlikely to contribute any benefits to the community with the subsequent loss of open space as the main concern.

While consideration should be given to directing more population northwards, even this is of no long-term benefit unless urban regeneration is the first priority on a national scale.

Even if the South East and Thames Gateway developments have well-designed houses, and not just bland boxes, it is still a relatively meaningless waste of land. It will help to denigrate urban areas, even more so because of the proximity of the capital and the employment magnet it creates.

The 'Ban on housing set to spread' article is indicative of how most local authorities feel.

This is a result of public concern and I am sure it will envelop most areas outside of the capital eventually. Until reassurance and action by the government on the priority of existing areas is given, the government might be creating a last-chance saloon scenario and ought to rethink its strategy before most local authorities react similarly.

Rex Hawkesworth, Hants

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