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Create more houseboats campaign given Tory MP’s qualified support

Marlborough MP Claire Perry has given her initial support to the plea made by Housing Minister Grant Shapps that local canals should be used to provide more homes for people with an influx of house boats.

He has urged local authorities to grant planning consent for more residential moorings on waterways such as the Kennet and Avon, to help solve the UK’s housing problem.

And while the move has been welcomed by British Waterways, conservation groups such as the CPRE claim it is little more than a bribe to allow more building to take place on greenfield sites.

“Anything that can be done to increase the supply of affordable homes would be welcome and more canal boats would in general be a good thing,” Claire Perry told Marlborough News Online.

But that is conditional on as long as “we have the right set up to collect mooring fees and the right amount of infrastructure along the canals.”  

She pointed out: “Unlike developments on land, those don't come for free.  So I will want to see the details on this and the implications for the Kennet  and Avon trust before giving it an unqualified welcome.”

Mrs Perry has already been in contact with Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott concerning some of the proposals in the government’s new national planning framework, which allows easier access to green field sites for housing development.

This has caused consternation among major conservation such as the National Trust, based in Swindon, which sees the policy as opening the door for developers seeking to build new housing estates that will spoil treasured areas of the countryside.

“There is concern over some of the assumptions,” said Mrs Perry.  “I'm suggesting that she and the Wiltshire MPs work together to clarify the pro-development assumptions.”

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