The Conservative Party has decided to annex north west Kent and turn it into an extension of London.
It is advocating a city on reclaimed land and brownfield sites which will require massive infrastructure spending including the rebuilding of the Thames Barrier(1). This is ‘dressed up’ as an ‘eco-city’ but there are serious obstacles to development in this area.
Steve Dawe comments: “House building on this scale raising current plans for 160,000 new homes in the area to 250,000 requires a considerable amount of other infrastructure to make it work. This includes schools, hospitals, surgeries, access roads, rail upgrades and improved bus services. This is considerably more expensive than permitting more considered growth in Kent’s urban settlements, based on local housing demand and renewal and enhancement of existing infrastructure.
Having looked at this area in considerable detail already (2), there are considerable problems with housing expansion in this area. These include:
· This proposal does nothing to encourage the regeneration of the areas of the country which need it most, or to decrease development pressures upon the South East quadrant of the country.
· The building regulations for an eco-city do not exist yet(3) and existing building regulations are poorly enforced due under-funding of local government.
· Flood and coastal protection enhancements would be necessary, including a new Thames Barrier since greenhouse gas emissions have not been cut in the UK or globally, meaning significant sea level rise before 2100 (4).”
1. The Observer, 12th August 2007.
2. THE EASTERN QUARRY DEVELOPMENT IN CONTEXT: A Kent Green Party report on development in the Eastern Quarry at Dartford, with consideration of Kent Thameside (Thames Gateway) and South East Region policies. Compiled by Steve Dawe & Tri-Regional Thames Gateway position statement from London Federation, South East Confederation and Eastern Confederation of Green Parties, both 2005 and available at www.kentgreenparty.org
3. See: Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution 26th Report: The Urban Environment (March 2007) or a scathing critique of existing planning and development policies. See recent Planning White Paper and Housing Green Paper (both 2007) for uncritical approaches to development.
4. See: Mark Lynas Six Degrees for an account of the effects of average global temperature rises above the 2 degrees centigrade we are now virtually committed to by recent decades of careless emissions increases. Drinking water supply for this area will be a serious problem as temperatures increase.