Hemel Hempstead MP backs his new town, but questions wisdom of creating many more of them

MP Mike Penning.
MP Mike Penning.

Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning says that as great as the area is as a new town, he will not support Ed Miliband’s call to create lots more of them.

The New Labour leader has pledged to have the UK building 200,000 homes a year by 2020 to meet growing demand if he’s elected.

Mr Miliband said he would do this partly by creating new towns and garden cities in sustainable locations in order to ease the pressure on London.

But Conservative MP Mr Penning said: “It’s frankly pie in the sky. This town was planned as a London overspill after the Second World War to house people who had been bombed out of their homes.

“It’s a very different situation now and we need to protect the green belt.”

He agrees that new homes have to be built, but in specially designated areas such as between east Hemel Hempstead and the M1.

That area is technically in the green belt, but has been assigned as an area of it where ‘new town’ homes would be appropriate, Mr Penning said.

He said: “If you ask me whether Hemel Hempstead as a new town is a success, I think it’s one of the most successful towns in the country.”

He said the area has high employment and town centre redevelopment plans will soon make Hemel Hempstead even better.

He said New Labour leader Ed Miliband, who detailed his plans in the London Evening Standard, had only written the article because an election is coming up.

He said: “They were in government for 13 years and what did they do? Why did he not do that during the boom years when they was in power?”