In the first part of our new Talk of the Town column, Bromley Town councillor Nicky Dykes discusses the dangers of concentrating too much on our urban areas for new housing.

Many residents, particularly those in and around the town centre, will have noticed the dramatic increase in developments over the years. This is to meet the ever-increasing housing targets - the current Mayor wants to more than double them.

More housing is needed, especially affordable and family homes. The issue is where do we build?

Bromley is a borough that is over 50 per cent greenbelt (or similar designation) which is heavily protected, and rightly so. Its key, and very important, function is to prevent urban sprawl and to be accessible to promote recreational use.

So this points us in the direction of our town centres doesn't it? It's undeniable that our town centres are bearing the brunt of housing development and the infrastructure to support it. Now I agree with this to an extent - of course more housing can be accommodated here. But when is it too much?

Bromley town centre is an historic market town with conservation areas and listed buildings as well as beautiful parks and green spaces.

Myself and my Bromley Town colleagues recently joined residents in fighting a 23-storey building next to the Grade II listed Bromley North station and adjacent to the conservation area of Bromley North. It would have ripped the heart out of our historic market town and been unbearable to residents living close by.

You may also have seen our objections to the council's masterplan which would see a series of very high density buildings in Bromley South. Would this create neighbourhoods and streets in which people want to live? Potentially yes - but we don't believe a row of tower blocks is the answer. We need to create homes and communities not just units.

My view is that if we continue to focus development in our towns we will lose our character, heritage and urban green spaces forever. Is a park that is used by many less valuable than greenbelt? Is our conservation area in the town centre less valuable than greenbelt? Does all greenbelt fulfil its purpose of preventing urban sprawl and increasing recreational use?

These are the questions we need to answer as the pressure to build more increases.

When I look at the current discussions on housing it reminds me of the Henry Ford quote: "Any customer can have a car painted any color (sic) that he wants so long as it is black." As a borough that has such a large greenbelt our choices are effectively funnelled one way.

The truth is that the heritage of our town centre and its character is valuable and worth fighting for. It's time to add some colour to this debate.