HC Deb 17 November 1959 vol 613 cc966-7
43. Mr. Allason

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he is aware of public concern at the proposed purchase by the borough of Hemel Hempstead of The Lockers, Hemel Hempstead, for a sum about four times that of the 1951 purchase price; to what extent this increase has resulted from a change of use under the Town and Country Planning Acts; and whether he will investigate the circumstances.

Mr. H. Brooke

New Town Corporations have mostly thought it right that the General Manager should live in the town; and accordingly in 1951 the Harts bought this property, a fifteenth-century house then in bad structural condition, which had with it some 12 acres of land. The land was already zoned for housing, but since the purchaser would be liable to pay development charge the price paid must have related to the value of the house and land for their existing use. The proposed purchase price now to be paid by the council is the value determined on the basis of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1959. It takes into account the grant of planning permission for housing development on the land, and the fact that the house had meanwhile been entirely renovated; but it excludes increase in value due to the development of the new town, which could have been realised had the owners sold to a private developer instead of agreeing to sell to the council. My investigations have shown that the Harts acted with complete propriety throughout.

Mr. Allason

As my right hon. Friend promised formal loan sanction to the borough council for this purchase, is he aware that the borough council has no plans for the future development of this area, and does that not affect formal loan sanction? Is my right hon. Friend aware that if the borough council really wanted the territory it could have had it at a quarter of the price eight years ago?

Mr. Brooke

It is for the borough council to answer for itself, but I have promised loan sanction to the council. I am informed that the council, if it did not acquire some further land, would shortly have insufficient housing land for its plans, and that it wishes to keep the development of The Lockers site under its control so that it can largely be used to house the natural increase in the local population rather than be taken up by people from outside. These are matters for the council to decide.

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