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Conservatives launch fresh attack on planning reforms

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The Conservative Party has launched a savage attack on deputy prime minister John Prescott's proposed changes to planning and housing policy.

Prescott's shadow cabinet opposite David Davis hit out at the government's plans for a massive house building programme in the South East at the party's conference last week.

Davis claimed the government hoped to hide a huge erosion of the Green Belt behind rhetoric and disguise. 'If John Prescott gets his way, 3.8 million houses will be built over the next 20 years, ' Davis said, 'almost half of them on greenfield sites.'

And he said Prescott was attempting to strip planning power away from local government. 'If local people don't like it? Tough. Prescott is going to force it through anyway.'

A Conservative administration would increase the right-to-buy programme, he said, giving housing association tenants the right to purchase their homes at a cut-down price. The money from these sales would be freed up to spend on the construction of more new social housing.

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