A ban on building new single-family houses in popular urban areas has been mooted by a leading German Green MP, who has said they are environmentally unfriendly because they use too much space and energy.

Anton Hofreiter, parliamentary group leader of the environmental party has drawn both praise and criticism for suggesting that houses were an unsustainable option in urban areas.

“Single-family homes consume a large surface area, a lot of construction material and energy and they lead to urban sprawl and therefore generate more traffic,” he told Der Spiegel magazine in an interview.

Hofreiter said at a time when living space in many German towns and cities was increasingly scarce, and rents were soaring, the country needed to radically rethink its residential development policies.

“Local authorities should be ensuring in their development planning in congested urban areas that where there is a lack of space this is used optimally in order to create affordable living areas,” he said. “This is a central, social question particularly in our large cities.”

He also recommended that local authorities should be allowed to appropriate private homes that had been abandoned or whose owners could not be located. In a separate interview, his party colleague Chris Kühn declared: “the time of new build single-family homes is over”.

His remarks – which stopped short of unambiguously advocating a ban – follow the recent controversial decision by a Green party district authority leader in the northern city of Hamburg to ban the construction of single-family homes.

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By Michael

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