Surbiton has often been unfairly derided for its suburban banality, but a team of experts and academics is championing the idea of a house with a garden for all - and to hell with the Green Belt.

A conference at the Centre for Suburban Studies at Kingston University heard the case for "Superbia" proudly stated by speakers such as writer and academic James Heartfield. His book proposes the expansion of the suburbs into the Green Belt so more people can have gardens.

Mr Heartfield said: "Suburbs are places full of go-ahead people who go to the city but don't want to live there. We should see them as frontiers rather than something substandard.

"Areas such as Kingston and Surbiton have a different tempo to London but they should be subject to investment and regeneration in the same way as urban areas. At the moment the demand for housing outweighs the supply, meaning house prices are sky high and there is a tendency to build blocks of flats."

Head of Suburban Studies at Kingston University Dr Nick Hubble who organised the event on September 23, said: "We do need to build on the Green Belt but we need strategic planning that would allow for houses with gardens to be built so people can enjoy a good quality of life. But these houses would have to be inserted in a way that would preserve the area."

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