THE Government has scrapped house building targets projected by its own supporters in Yorkshire and Humberside - and doubled them. It will mean half a million new homes in the region by 2020, claims the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
This is almost twice the number suggested by the regional assembly set-up by John Prescott when he was Deputy Prime Minister, a body which critics says is crammed with Labour supporters and is little more than a talking shop.
But it appears that no-one in Whitehall is listening.
Expressing its dismay, the CPRE claims: "Targets for the number of new homes to be built in the region - compiled by Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Assembly with involvement from a wide range of stakeholders in the region - have been thrown out by the Government who have announced plans for house building on a massive scale to meet Gordon Brown's pledge for three million new homes in England by 2020.
"From next year, Yorkshire and the Humber must find space for 22,140 new homes each year. This will mean nearly half a million new homes within the next 20 years - almost twice that originally proposed by the regional assembly.
"The Government admits such huge levels of house building may require a review of the Green Belt in West Yorkshire."
CPRE warns that this will lead to developers 'cherry picking' greenfield sites in response to market demand, and not to the provision of affordable housing where it is needed most. The long-term implications for the countryside, the environment, the Green Belt and for urban regeneration in the region "could be catastrophic."
Gill Stride, CPRE's Policy Officer for Yorkshire and the Humber, complained: "This would be an exorbitant price to pay for meeting the Government's housing requirements. They say they want brownfield sites used first and have recently reaffirmed support for the Green Belt.
"But if the hike in housing numbers is pushed through, these objectives will be fatally undermined, giving way to another wave of urban sprawl, long-distance commuting and congestion - the very last thing Yorkshire and the Humber needs."