HC Deb 20 March 2000 vol 346 cc716-7
25. Sir Teddy Taylor (Rochford and Southend, East)

What further progress has been made in the disposal and development of the old and new ranges in Shoeburyness. [113713]

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

Details of the sale of the old ranges and Horseshoe barracks, Shoeburyness have been announced. I have written to the hon. Gentleman about the outcome; I trust that he has received my response.

On the question of the new ranges, DERA is now working with SERCO Ltd. to rationalise the estate and introduce new businesses which can co-exist with the continuing range activities. At a public meeting on 8 March 2000, DERA and SERCO put forward their proposals for regeneration of the site to the joint councils of Southend and Rochford. DERA and SERCO will work closely with both councils in preparing a 10-year development plan for the introduction of new commercial activities on the site. Public consultation will be a key feature in taking forward any proposals.

Sir Teddy Taylor

Is the Minister aware of the concern in Shoeburyness that the plans for the new and old ranges involve the building of 700 additional new houses when already in the area we have serious traffic congestion and a shortage of public facilities? Will the Minister and his colleagues ensure that the transport problem is resolved before the houses are completed? Finally, can he explain why the bid of £8 million was accepted when a larger bid for only 150 houses, submitted by a local firm, was turned down?

Dr. Moonie

On the hon. Gentleman's latter point, the bid that was accepted was that which was considered to give the Department best value for money. On his first point, the purpose of the detailed consultations that we have held with local councils is to address the very concerns that he is raising, and I trust that they will be resolved before the matter goes any further.