§ 2. Mr. Abse
asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many houses were completed by the Cwmbran Development Corporation for private sale during the last 12 months; how many of those completed now stand vacant; what are the price range and ground rents of the vacant houses; and what research into potential consumers' needs and financial means took place before these houses were built.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Ifor Davies)
In the last twelve months 60 houses have been completed for sale of which 37 are vacant. Prices range from £3,800 to £4,450 and ground rents from £20 to £27 per year. The Corporation's decision to build was based on inquiries received by it.
§ Mr. Abse
Is it not somewhat disappointing that so many houses should be vacant, in view of the fact that private builders in the area have no difficulty in disposing of their houses? Is it not necessary that a warning should be given to the Corporation to make certain that it is investigating in depth the nature and type of house which should be put up in the area?
§ Mr. Davies
My hon. Friend will appreciate that there is always an element of risk in building houses for sale. The Corporation made the best assessment 841 that it could, according to the demand. If houses cannot be sold, they will be available for letting.
§ 3. Mr. Abse
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the present programme of the Cwmbran Development Corporation for future building of houses for sale; at what maximum price and maximum ground rent it is intended to offer houses for sale; and whether the programme is being reviewed, in view of the tardy sales of Cwmbran Development Corporation houses so far.
§ Mr. Ifor Davies
To provide a balanced community and to meet demand in the area, the Corporation has plans for building 118 higher-income group houses for sale. As a first stage it has proposed building 29 houses at prices of about £8,500 and ground rents of £52 per year and my right hon. Friend is considering this.
§ Mr. Abse
Would the Minister consider that, in Monmouthshire, we are in an ocean of obsolescent housing and that to cater for income groups of this kind is having an odd sense of priorities, particularly when he has already indicated that there are houses of very much less value unable to be sold in the area?
§ Mr. Davies
The Corporation is confident—and I share its confidence, following a recent visit—that industrial development in South Monmouthshire will give rise to a demand for houses for business executives, and it would be in the interests of the new town to meet some of the demand. Having regard to the reference to tardy sales, it is only fair to recognise that the total number of houses built for sale by the Corporation since its inception is 276. Of that total, 239 have been sold.