§ 1. Mr. Wingfield Digby
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what steps he is taking to make more building land available and to improve its use near green belts, in view of the shortage of building land.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Sir Keith Joseph)
Local planning authorities are constantly being reminded of the need to allocate more land where it is wanted for development. I have recently issued a planning bulletin which asks authorities to consider increasing housing densities. I would also refer my hon. Friend to my recent statement on new towns for Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester and to the Government's White Paper on employment, housing and land in the London area. The regional studies now in hand for the most heavily congested areas will deal with the long-term land requirements there.
§ Mr. Digby
I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, but I hope that we 616 shall not have to wait for the regional studies. The difference in value between agricultural land and land with planning permission appears to be widening even today and it is a very real problem. Would it not be a pity to wait until the surveys come in?
§ Mr. C. Hughes
Is it not the case that there is five to six years' supply of building land around London, which is now frozen by speculators? What steps is the Minister taking to release this land for building?
§ Sir K. Joseph
I have reason to hope that the rate of building of houses around London will tend to go up. This is on land to which the hon. Gentleman refers. Of course, the Government are looking further ahead and that is why the regional plans will show what needs to be done further out in the way of new communities and expanding communities.