HC Deb 23 November 1954 vol 533 cc1039-40
35. Mrs. L. Jeger

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if, in view of the housing shortage in central London and the expanding office building programme, he will consider taking steps to encourage, by grant or otherwise, the conversion and return to residential use of houses in the Metropolitan boroughs which are now occupied by office users.

Mr. Sandys

Under the Housing Acts, grants are available to local authorities and property-owners to assist them in converting suitable buildings into flats.

Mrs. Jeger

Is the Minister aware that there seems to be some lack of understanding among owners of houses which are now rated as offices as to their eligibility for improvement grants, and will he try and make their position a little clearer?

Mr. Sandys

The hon. Lady will realise that I have no powers to compel people to change the use to which they put their buildings.

Mr. K. Robinson

As the right hon. Gentleman is asked to encourage these local authorities, may I ask if he is aware that the conversion of some of these office properties in the centre of London would make a real contribution towards solving the housing problem, which there is no chance whatever of solving at the present moment?

Mr. Sandys

So far as encouraging the local authorities is concerned, I would say that they have been encouraged in every possible way by circulars and other means to make use of these grants which are available, but local authorities do not possess large blocks of offices which they can convert into houses.

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