HC Deb 17 April 2000 vol 348 c689
14. Sir David Madel. (South-West Bedfordshire)

What is his Department's policy in relation to the future development of the Weinberg housing estate near Fallingbostel, Germany; and if he will make a statement. [117893]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Dr. Lewis Moonie)

The Weinberg estate comprises 474 flats, of which the British forces lease 392. On expiry of two of the current leases at the end of 2001, it is planned to hand back 158 properties to the respective landlords to reflect a reduced housing requirement. For the remaining 234 properties, my officials are actively involved in negotiation with both the landlords and relevant German authorities with a view to effecting improvements both to the overall condition of the estate and to individual properties.

Sir David Madel

Does that answer mean that part of the estate will be knocked down and rebuilt, possibly with a private finance initiative arrangement with a German construction company? Can the Minister give a bit more detail on the time scale for making the very necessary improvements to those flats which house service men's families?

Dr. Moonie

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I share his concern about the quality of our accommodation; I made it known during a debate last week that that is one of our highest priorities for improvement. With that in mind, I have to say that all the service families accommodation on the Weinberg estate is categorised as below the ideal standard set by the Department. Upgrades to the properties already effected include double glazing for all, the provision of new kitchens for 222 flats, new bathrooms for 258 flats and replacement hot water and heating systems for the same number. Four blocks of flats have been reclad externally; the remainder are to be completed within two years.

The hon. Gentleman may be interested to know that a survey of residents on the estate showed that 80 per cent. of those families surveyed would prefer to remain there than to move to other service families accommodation. On the specific point that the hon. Gentleman made, as far as I am aware, there are no plans for such a scheme.