HC Deb 23 November 1977 vol 939 cc1510-1
11. Mr. George Rodgers

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied that the provision of employment opportunities in the Central Lancashire New Town is commensurate with the proposed programme of residential development.

Mr. Guy Barnett

The revised target figure for the Central Lancashire New Town which my right hon. Friend announced in July took account of the need to achieve a balance between homes and jobs in the new town. I am satisfied that sufficient employment opportunities will be available in the new town to provide for the increased population.

Mr. Rodgers

I thank the Minister very much for that reply and explanation. Is he aware that there is considerable disquiet in Clayton-le-Woods that accommodation for 4,000 people should be built in this area? Is he satisfied that the new town has the capacity to generate sufficient employment opportunities to meet the situation, and does he intend to hold a public inquiry into these proposals?

Mr. Barnett

I am aware of these proposals and I am informed that the development corporation is consulting people in the area about them. This will go before my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State as a Section 6(1) application and at that stage he will decide whether there should be a public inquiry. I can assure my hon. Friend that we shall examine the proposals very closely to see whether the provision of houses is justified in the context of the revised population targets, and will take fully into account the views of the local authorities, public bodies and the general public.

On the employment side, the CLNT unemployment level is around 6 per cent. which, in national terms, is not too bad. The development corporation has been very successful in bringing new jobs to the area, and the Secretary of State for Industry has approved the first stage of the expansion of the British Leyland truck and bus division, which will provide 700 new jobs.

Mr. Thorne

What immediate plans does the Minister have to strengthen community representation on the Central Lancashire New Town Development Corporation, which has made a great impact upon the sort of housing plans it has at the moment?

Mr. Barnett

We are reviewing the board of the Central Lancashire New Town and will be making an announcement in the near future. We are keen to see on the boards members of the local authorities who directly represent the people in these areas, and we think that this should be a requirement in respect of the boards of all third-generation new towns as well as others.