HC Deb 26 April 1989 vol 151 cc938-9
4. Mr. Allen McKay

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment which urban development corporations publish a code of consultation with local authorities in their areas.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. David Trippier)

As required by the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980, all urban development corporations have prepared or are in the course of preparing codes of practice as to consultation with the local authorities in their areas. UDCs are not required to publish them.

Mr. McKay

According to evidence given to the Select Committee on Employment, the London Docklands Development Corporation failed to provide such a document in 1982. It took the corporation another seven years to find it. Is that not a clear contravention of section 140 of the 1980 Act? Will the Minister ensure that the requirement is complied with by all development corporations, both in spirit and intent?

Mr. Trippier

I am happy to give that assurance to the hon. Gentleman. We have made it clear to all UDCs and to local authorities in the areas in which UDCs operate that they should consult one another. As I indicated in my substantive reply, if they both agree, they should publish.

Mr. Knapman

On the subject of underused land, can my hon. Friend confirm that the canal port of Sharpness in my constituency faces a bright and prosperous future, and that three factories are currently being built in the area? Can he also confirm—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I called the hon. Gentleman to ask a supplementary to question 4.

Mr. Knapman

Yes, Sir—on the subject of under-used land. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is question 5."]

Mr. Speaker

Out by one.

Mr. Simon Hughes

There is considerable concern in London about the delay in setting up any consultation process in the docklands. Will the Minister consider introducing an amendment to the Local Government and Housing Bill to allow parish councils to be constituted in the docklands corporation part of London, which would fulfil such a purpose?

Mr. Trippier

The simple, straightforward answer is no. I am not aware of a problem with consultation at present. Indeed, it is my clear impression that consultation with local authorities in the LDDC area is better than it has ever been.

Mr. O'Brien

Is the Minister aware of the damage and danger caused by lack of consultation, which applies particularly to the LDDC, because of its failure to consult adequately and the lack of proper social facilities? Is the Minister aware that the errors that have been made include failure to match the provision of transport and other services, and failure to consider what the development is for and who will gain and who will lose?

Will he investigate what is happening in the London docklands area? In the words of Sir Andrew Derbyshire, the free play of market forces is not going to produce the best results in terms of quality". Mr. C. J. Shepley, president of the royal town planning institute, has said: I fear that in 25 years we will look back on Docklands in exactly the same way that we now look back on 1960s housing schemes. In other words, we shall see it as a total failure.

Mr. Trippier

I entirely reject all that the hon. Gentleman has said. He and his colleagues should break the habit of a lifetime and say something nice and positive about urban development corporations, especially the LDDC. The corporation's single-minded and single-purpose approach has regenerated an area of London which has been stagnant in the past and was certainly going downhill under the last Labour Administration. We have revived it, creating wealth and work. That means jobs, and the hon. Gentleman should recognise that.

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