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Build 3% more and solve housing crisis – Boles

Increasing building by around 3% could solve the housing crisis, planning minister Nick Boles has proposed.

The move has been labelled as wrong on “just about every level” by Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) president Sir Andrew Motion.

Boles called for the number of homes to be built on open land to increase by around 2-3%, bringing the total amount of developed land in England to 12%. Relaxing planning laws in this way could help provide much-needed homes, he said.

He told BBC Newsnight: “There are many people in their 20s, working hard, making decent wages who cannot afford a place to live and I think my constituents will agree with me that we need to put that right.

“There will always be some people who object but the generality of opinion has not been to fight it. We can work to plan where 88% of England is still undeveloped and solve our housing crisis.

“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.”

However, campaign groups like the CPRE have responded angrily to Boles’ statements.

President of CPRE, Sir Andrew Motion, said: “On just about every level what he said was wrong. Start at the level of fact: he said 9% of our countryside is bricked over; by CPRE reckoning it is actually already more like 12%. And that doesn't take into account the collateral effects of development. About 50% of our land is already compromised in some way or other.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “The Government has repeatedly made clear that our reforms safeguard the countryside and the new framework maintains previous protections for green belt and countryside, including areas of outstanding natural beauty.”

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