HC Deb 21 January 1970 vol 794 cc498-9
19. Mrs. Ewing

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a detailed statement on his proposals for a new town at Stonehouse.

Mr. Ross

I am circulating a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mrs. Ewing

Will the Secretary of State bear in mind that the people in my constituency in the area of Larkhill are open-minded but are anxious for the fullest details to be made available as quickly as possible so that they may have information about this large development on their doorstep? All categories of the people, including householders, shopkeepers, businessmen, and employers have a burning interest in this matter. Could the Minister tell the House the latest date by which the proposals will be known?

Mr. Ross

This matter affects also the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Overseas Development, who has been in communication with me about this matter. In the preliminary stage the development plan is being changed to enable the building of up to 2,000 houses by the S.S.H.A. This amendment is with the county council and must be submitted to me. When that is done, it will be fully publicised, and there is the possibility of a public inquiry, so that everybody in the area will know exactly what is happening at that stage.

Mr. Lawson

Will the Secretary of State ensure that when this document appears it will contain a detailed explanation of the reason why the decision has been taken, in view of the fact that it would seem that a much cheaper and more effective development could be obtained by working in conjunction with towns such as Motherwell and Hamilton?

Mr. Ross

We have been working in conjunction with the local authority in the area responsible, which is Lanark County Council. We are visualising in the first stage the kind of plan amendment that I have suggested. The responsibility is theirs.

Following is the statement: A year ago my hon. Friend the Minister of State announced that we were arranging for the preparation of a master plan for a new community in the Stonehouse area. This area had previously been the subject of a feasibility study by the county council, which indicated that it had great potential for development. There would be room for manoeuvre in the choice of an ultimate population target for the new community, but the capacity of the area was tentatively assessed at about 120,000 people. In view of the area's potential for attracting industry—it adjoins M74 and includes one very large and several smaller sites which should prove very attractive to industry—we subsequently decided that some development should be started more quickly. Lanark County Council are therefore preparing a limited development plan amendment which would provide for the allocation of some land for industry and for the building of 2,000 houses or thereby by the Scottish Special Housing Association for incoming workers. This development plan amendment should be submitted to the Secretary of State in the first half of 1970. As in the case of all development plan amendments there will be an opportunity to make representations and, if there are any such representations, they will be the subject of a public local inquiry. At that inquiry parties would be given not only information about the development covered by the development plan amendment itself, but also a broad picture of the implications of the larger project of which this first development would ultimately form a part. Although the proposal is often described as a new town, it is not the intention to have it carried out under new towns Dowers.