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KATHERINE SHONFIELD

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At long last, two pieces of good news.

The first is that Richard Rogers has stuck his neck out of the sea of unremittingly conformist, collarless-jacketed yes-people that make up the Labour cohorts, and put the boot in over greenfield developments.

The second is that John Prescott has done three sensible things in a row, even if you don't count the simple yet glorious fact that he is not Robin Cook, Tony Blair or Gordon Brown.

1 He has proposed a tax on greenfield building.

2 He wants local authorities to levy their own taxes and fines on car use and spend the money on public transport. In the teeth of the Treasury, he's establishing an excellent precedent for tit-for-tat taxes.

3 He has rejected the principle that housing provision can be successfully predicted and provided. Finally officials have recognised that the only thing to be predicted with any accuracy was that the prediction itself would be wrong.

Prescott and Brown should get together immediately with Richard Burton. Burton estimated at a recent Edge debate that new build on vacant land on housing estates in Greater London could house on average 30 more people per estate. - around 155 people per acre. This exciting possibility should now be researched by the government as a matter of urgency.

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