THE South East Plan would be scrapped if the Conservatives formed a government.

That is the pledge from Grant Shapps, Tory Housing spokesman, speaking exclusively to the News on Wednesday.

He said the South East Plan - which is the driving force behind Bracknell Forest Council's bid to identify sites for thousands of homes to be built by 2026 - would be shelved in a matter of weeks if a Tory government was elected.

He said: "I've been coming down to the area since I was a kid as a result of having family in Bracknell. I know the pressure it's under and I know the regional plans and building targets are causing all sorts of disarray with very little in return.

"We want houses to be built, but we want local people to decide where, when and what and to get money in return for building them." Mr Shapps was speaking during a visit to Reading yesterday (Wednesday).

Bracknell Forest Council's consultation on where around 5,500 homes should be built to meet Government housing targets closed on Friday.

The News has been inundated with comments from Bracknell borough residents concerned that the homes, planned for the borough under the council's draft Site Allocation Development Plan Document (DPD), could threaten its green space and many areas' village character.

Binfield and Warfield residents have reported feeling particularly threatened by the proposals because the council is suggesting concentrating the development in a "Northern Arc" that could see the green space between Bracknell and the villages eroded.

The borough has already identified land for 7,412 new homes which includes Amen Corner and some already built, but needs to find space for an extra 5,368 to meet Government targets, avoiding green belt, special protection areas and land made unsuitable because of flood risks.

The draft Site Allocations DPD suggests that 1,312 homes are added in or to the edge of existing settlements, possibly including more mobile homes at Warfield Park Mobile Home Site.

Another 4,056 would then need to be built on some or all of eight proposed sites, namely south west Sandhurst, Broadmoor, north east Crowthorne, west Binfield, east Binfield, north Warfield, Long Hill Road in Chavey Down and east Bracknell.

Around 90 worried Sandhurst residents discussed the plans at The Duke's Head pub on Wednesday last week and formed the Save Our Sandhurst Committee.

John Piasecki, Labour candidate for Bracknell, said: "We need houses and the way to do that is to address what the need is, not stick our heads in the sand." Ray Earwicker, Lib Dem, agreed that houses are needed in Bracknell and said: "We are in favour of a more equal spread of housing, rather than concentrating it all in one area." Murray Barter, for UKIP, has expressed concerns about the capacity of the transport infrastructure in Bracknell and the need for the town centre space to be better used.

The Green Party, whose candidate for Bracknell is David Young, has emphasised the importance of protecting open space and building in a sustainable way.

Mark Burke, for the BNP, has also said that more homes in a redeveloped town centre would stop it being a "ghost town" and would curb anti-social behaviour.