More than 100 MPs from all parties are demanding changes to government proposals for new planning policies aimed at boosting housebuilding.
They have signed a Commons motion calling on Ministers to change the draft housing planning policy and fear that a relaxation in controls could result in urban sprawl and undermine regeneration efforts in established town and city centres.
The Government has been urging builders to develop old industrial brownfield sites for homes in preference to greenfield sites. But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) believes the proposed policy as it stands is a recipe for dispersed car dependent development.
It is claimed the policy would encourage greenfield sprawl, harm prospects for urban regeneration and do little to provide the genuinely affordable homes that are needed.
David Drew MP, the leading Labour backbencher who tabled the Early Day Motion (EDM) said: "I very much welcome the response colleagues have demonstrated towards this important EDM. It is vital that we keep up the pressure to ensure that development takes place on appropriate sites, brownfield first wherever possible.
Liberal Democrat spokesman for Communities and Local Government Andrew Stunnell said: "We are asking the Government to make sure the final version of this policy gives priority to recycling derelict urban land and bringing empty buildings back into use. There are over 100,000 empty homes in the North West of England."
The Conservative chairman Environmental Audit Committee Tim Yeo MP said: "Only by strengthening the priority given to developing brownfield sites in preference to greenfield ones can we save our countryside from irreversible damage."
* Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's plans to give town halls the power to "seize" and commandeer private homes came under attack from the Conservatives yesterday.
Shadow local government secretary Caroline Spelman warned that "heavy-handed state powers" will allow bureaucrats to seize private homes in perfect condition, including the fixtures and fittings, if they have been empty for a short time.