REAL ESTATE - A campaign to scupper the construction of a satellite town in England’s greenbelt has slated landowner the BP Pension Fund as "secretive" and "unresponsive".

The remarks, made by Nigel Clarke of the Stop Harlow North campaign, follow the government’s controversial decision to step up the number of new houses it plans to build in the eastern English region from an original target of 10,000.

Paul de Moldenberg, a spokesman for Ropemaker, the real estate representative of the €17.4bn pension fund, said: "It isn’t absolutely clear how the figures will be worked out but we welcome the revised proposals."

An independent panel set up to investigate regional regeneration proposals had earlier recommended rejecting proposals to build outside Harlow.

Government minister Bill Rammell, who is Harlow’s parliamentary representative, dismissed the inspector’s report as "incoherent and contradictory", citing its failure to address the need for transport infrastructure.

Rammell told IPE Real Estate: "This was not a political decision. Anyone who denies the need for housing isn’t facing reality. Each area has to make its own contribution, and it would be grossly unfair to dump it all on Harlow.

"I don’t know why the government reached the decision it did," he added, "but it has a right to form its own view."

A further phase of consultation over the proposals will end at the beginning of March. Until then, Clarke said the campaign would continue. He said the campaign was "very disappointed" with BP pension fund.

The pension fund acquired the land as an agricultural real estate investment in 1979. It first mooted development proposals involving 5,000 houses in the early 1990s but local government bodies rejected both this and subsequent proposals.