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Planning minister: We must build on 1,500 square miles of open countryside

An area twice the size of Greater London should be developed to fight the housing crisis, says Nick Boles, describing many modern housing estates as ‘pig ugly’

In an interview with BBC Two’s Newsnight to be broadcast tonight, new planning minister Boles says: ‘We’re going to protect the green belt – but if people want to have housing for their kids they have got to accept we need to build more on some open land.

‘In the UK and England at the moment we’ve got about nine per cent of land developed. All we need to do is build on another two to three per cent of land and we’ll have solved a housing problem.’

The proposal would see an increase in developed land from 4,500 square miles to more than 6,000 square miles. The increase is equivalent to two cities the size of Greater London.

According to the Daily Telegraph Boles adds: ‘It’s my job to make the arguments to these people [those who oppose development] that if they carry on writing letters their kids are never going to get a place with a garden to bring up their grandkids.

‘The built environment can be more beautiful than nature and we shouldn’t obsess about the fact that the only landscapes that are beautiful are open — sometimes buildings are better.’

‘I think everyone has the right to live somewhere that is not just affordable but that is beautiful and has some green space nearby… a basic moral right, like health care and education’.

The new housing estates bolted on to towns and villages are pig ugly

Boles has previously described campaigners who oppose development in rural areas as ‘hysterical, scaremongering latter-day Luddites’.

Risking further controversy, Boles plans to deliver a speech at the Town and Country Planning Association in which he will say: ‘People look at the new housing estates that have been bolted on to their towns and villages in recent decades and observe that few of them are beautiful. Indeed, not to put too fine a point on it, many of them are pig ugly.’

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