HC Deb 20 December 1960 vol 632 cc1055-7
25. Mr. M. Stewart

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what survey he has made of land allocated for house building in the London region; and with what result.

Mr. Brooke

The London and Greater London local planning authorities are readily co-operating with my Department in a survey of the land available for residential development in the area surrounded by the Metropolitan Green Belt, and in existing towns situated within the Green Belt. The object is to ensure the maximum use of land which is, or can be made, available for building.

The planning authorities concerned are also considering, in connection with the review of their development plans, what further land can be made available beyond the green belt. Completion of the reviews must take time, but the investigation is clearly underlining the need for those more immediate measures which I have recently suggested to local planning authorities in Circular 37/60.

Mr. Stewart

Am I right in supposing that land in this area which has been allocated for house building, but not yet built on, amounts to sufficient to meet the needs of the next two or three years? What is likely to happen after that? Further, am I right in thinking that a good deal of this land is now owned by companies which intend to build on it at some subsequent date? What will be the position of people who want to build their own houses to their own design?

Mr. Brooke

I am not quite sure what area the hon. Member is referring to, because here we have to consider not only the land on the inner side of the Green Belt but land on the outer side. I entirely agree that there is anything but unlimited building land available on the inner side of the Green Belt and, therefore, it is the more urgent that local authorities should follow up the suggestions I made in the Circular about encouraging conversions, redevelopment of older areas, review of densities, and so forth.

37. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs approximately how many properties used for domestic accommodation in the Metropolitan Police area or in the County of London have been or are being demolished for replacement by office or business buildings; approximately how many persons have been affected by this; and what information he has regarding the extent to which the price of land for house building purposes has risen during the past five years in either of those two areas in consequence of such demolition, or for other reasons.

Mr. Brooke

Although figures are not available, I have no reason to think that any large-scale demolition of residential buildings to make way for offices has taken place in the County of London since 1955, when the Development Plan was approved. I have given, and will continue to give, my support to the policy of the local planning authority to preserve residential uses, wherever possible, and to curb excessive office building. I am now considering certain amendments to the County Development Plan which have been put to me with the purpose of strengthening this policy still further. I have no evidence that land in the County of London has increased in price as the result of the demolition of houses for office development.

Mr. Sorensen

Will not the right hon. Gentleman secure the information for which I ask in my Question? He cannot very well make judgments as to the future unless he has the information. It is very difficult for some of us to get the information we desire from him, because in reference to a previous Question from this side he argued that it was of too ambiguous a character, whilst he is now refusing to answer my Question because it is apparently too explicit.

Mr. Brooke

So little of this has been going on that I do not think it would justify the immense trouble involved in getting statistics from every local authority concerned. It is much more practical to proceed by way of getting on with the consideration of the review of the County of London Development Plan, which will include consideration of certain amendments for strengthening the retention of residential use still further.

Mr. Sorensen

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

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