§ 6. Mr. M. Stewart
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he 182 will inquire into the new use now proposed to be made by Brentwood Urban District Council of land purchased by them from the War Department for building to meet the council's housing need.
The hon. Member has been good enough to write to me about this. The council obtained permission for the development of this land for residential purposes. I know of no proposal to change that use.
§ Mr. Stewart
Is not the Minister aware that when the negotiations to acquire this land were going on the council's own housing need was stressed, and that what is now proposed is to sell a good part of the land to private developers so that the council's own housing list will not be affected to anything like the extent that was represented at the time the land was acquired?
This land was acquired by the local authority at the district valuer's price. It is an area of 31 acres. It is proposed to develop half of it for council houses and half of it for private houses. The whole scheme, which is being prepared by a distinguished architect, in-includes shops, community centres and the like. It seems to me to be an admirable and sensible scheme, and I am glad that the council has adapted it.
§ Mr. Gardner
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the criticism of the Brentwood Urban District Council which is implicit in the hon. Gentleman's Question does not bear careful examination? Is he aware that of the 400 houses that the council proposes to build or has built on this land 200 will be council houses, and that the profit which the council will get from the sale of the leasehold to private developers will go directly into the housing account and so enable the council to benefit the quality of the council houses, the rents of them and the people who live in them?
I expect the council to act as a responsible body and to have regard to the housing needs of the people of the area and not merely one section of them.
§ Mr. Stewart
But will the Minister consider this point, because his first answer to me suggested that he had not 183 seized himself of it? The use which the council is now proposing to make of the land is very different from that which was represented to the War Office and the county planning authority when the land was acquired. This is the point of principle involved. Will the Minister look into that?
The council, in acquiring it, needed this land to serve the housing needs of the people of the area. It regards the housing needs as including not only council house development but making possible the development of houses for owner-occupation.