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Community planning milestone in the south-east

A major transfer of power is currently taking place that will see local authorities in the south-east become the third region in England to benefit from new planning laws that will place the onus on councils to meet their housing needs.

Local government secretary Eric Pickles unveiled the scrapping of the central planning for the area, which will give councils greater flexibility in how they manage their budgets and in shaping future developments in their area.

He commented: "The flawed top-down targets of regional planning built nothing but resentment, and threatened the green belt in many local authorities.

"The abolition of the South East Plan follows through from the abolition of the unelected quangos of the South East England Regional Assembly and South East England Development Agency."

Covering almost nine million people, the sprawling south-east stretches from Oxfordshire to Kent and is one of the heaviest populated regions of the country.

That said, house building in the area has been limited over recent years, with the number of new developments standing at levels not seen since the 1920s - all of which means the housing crisis which is affecting all of the UK is being particularly keenly felt in the south-east.

Mr Pickles concluded: "This government is delivering on its pledges to decentralise power from Whitehall and its quangos down to local people."

The news follows recent comments from Brian Berry, chief executive officer of the Federation of Master Builders, who argued that the best way for the UK to drag itself out of recession is to focus on the construction sector and the provision of more homes.

He argued that greater capital investment in the building trade could deliver a potential boost to the country as a whole and this should therefore be a top priority for the government over the coming months. 

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