Too many houses are being built in the Midlands countryside as local authorities continue to give the go-ahead to development, campaigners warned today.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England said that, despite new Regional Planning Guidance introduced last year with the explicit goal of reducing housing levels in the shires and encouraging more housing in the conurbations, the rate of building in Warwickshire remains dangerously high - at 30 per cent above the maximum.
Worcestershire is also exceeding its maximum by eight per cent.
The CPRE said Warwickshire already has enough land committed to meet its housing requirement for the next five and a half years - more than any other shire county.
Campaigners are not convinced there is determination by local authorities to reduce housebuilding rates quickly enough or that enough effort is being made to ensure those houses that are built are affordable and genuinely meet local need.
At the same time, the level of building in urban areas is patchy, with Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull exceeding their targets but the Black Country failing well short, and the situation might be worse if replacements for higherthanexpected levels of demolition were excluded.
Gerald Kells, regional policy officer for CPRE West Midlands, said: "We anticipated that there would be some housing proposals still passing through the system and that it would take a while for authorities to rein in the developers, but there appears to be a reluctance to do so.
"If we are serious about creating a sound basis for urban regeneration and protecting the countryside, we must move more quickly to reduce housing levels in the shires and direct new houses to meeting local needs. This would make a vital contribution to stimulating urban housebuilding."
John Hammon, a parish councillor in the village of Cubbington, Warwickshire, said Warwick District Council had met its requirements for housing until 2011 but is continuing to allow more to go ahead.
He said: "In the end we are going to clog up the area. We do not know if we have the utilities to hold it all."
Parish council chairman Cliff Cleaver added: "We are getting very concerned here with all the applications we keep receiving.
"Cubbington is being turned into something very detrimental to what we have had ever before. We had a pleasant area to live and now we are being taken over by housing."
Warwick district councillor Alan Boad (Lib Dem, Leamington Crown) said the county had exceeded its housing quota by 1,800 homes because there was no policy in place to stop the increasing numbers of applications.
He said: "We have got phenomenal applications coming in and we had to meet four times last week to deal with them all.
"There is a big demand for people moving into the area. We are overheating and there is an issue with affordable housing where there are major demands we can't meet because we are building all these market houses with large five bedroom houses."
Coun Boad, the portfolio holder for housing, said the district structure plan had set a limit of 8,000 homes being built in the area between 1996 and 2011.
By April last year that limit had already exceeded by 1,173.