COMMENT: Now is the time to say that enough is enough
Inch by inch, England's green and pleasant land is slowly disappearing under the urban sprawl.
Most of it has gone for housing, much to the new Church of England at which so many worship each weekend, the edge-of-town retail park.
Anyone who attempts to drive around the Portsmouth area cannot fail to have noticed the huge number of new homes being shoehorned into all our communities.
Now, surely, this area has done its bit?
For a start there is Welborne, a 6,500-home new town on green fields north of Fareham.
Then look at the thousands of homes built this century in countryside west of Waterlooville.
And as for Portsmouth, councillors of all political hues are right to groan: ‘We’re full up. We can’t take any more.’
Yet that is just what the government is proposing – extra homes on top of the tens of thousands we have already allowed to be built in this stifled part of the world.
We are not against new homes. In fact we strongly believe new, affordable, housing is one thing that will really make a difference to people’s lives and reward hard-working people.
House prices have risen five times faster than wages in the past five years. Meanwhile, average rents now stand at £800 a month, making it impossible for many to save. Home ownership has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years.
The decline of home ownership and lack of affordable housing is having – and will increasingly have – profound, long-lasting and adverse economic and social consequences.
Young people are putting off major life decisions such as starting a family. We know owning your own home gives families security, reduces welfare bills and combats poverty in old age.
But there comes a point when you have to say enough is enough. And with the government’s latest plans for extra homes in all our communities we have now reached that point.