HL Deb 13 March 1978 vol 389 cc1047-9

3.10 p.m.

The Earl of KINNOULL

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a Statement on the release of development land under the Community Land Act.


My Lords, in the six months to 31st March last year, English local authorities disposed of the first 33 acres of land for development under the Community Land Scheme. For the current financial year disposals are likely to total between 300 and 400 acres, and receipts exceed £4 million.

The Earl of KINNOULL

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply. Does she agree that the figure for the first year was extremely disappointing, particularly when one remembers the promises of positive planning and, indeed, promises on the speed of planning? Can the noble Baroness say whether the Government accept that there is a relationship between the release of building land and the builders' banks of land, and house prices? Further, can she say whether, within the framework of the Community Land Act, the speed of planning can be examined?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, I do not accept the first statement made in the noble Earl's supplementary question, to the effect that the figure in the first year was very bad. There were, in fact, only six operative months in the first year, bearing in mind the situation regarding the first appointed day and the introduction of DLT. I would say that, considering the circumstances and taking into account the economic situation of the country, it was certainly not a discreditable achievement. The noble Earl also made a point about the price of land. The national average price of land for building rose by only 5 per cent. last year, and the national average price of housing land in 1977 was £18,000 per acre. Even in the South-East the average price was only £25,000 per acre. There have been one or two exceptional cases reported in the Press, but I do not consider that these exceptions can throw doubt upon, or knock very hard at, the Community Land Act.


My Lords, can the noble Baroness say how many people were employed in ad ministering the Community Land Act to achieve that figure of 33 acres?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, I cannot say so off hand. All I can say is that the administrative costs have been comparatively small considering the size of the scheme, and they certainly have not risen above what was expected during the passage of the Act.


My Lords, the noble Baroness gave figures of what had been released in the way of land. Can she give the figures for what land the local authorities have acquired within the Community Land Act provisions?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, in the first year 1,500 acres were bought and 33 acres were sold. I will be able to give the noble Earl the figures for this financial year after the year has ended—but not until then. As the noble Earl is aware, the figures vary tremendously from region to region and from authority to authority. It is up to the local authorities themselves to implement the Community Land Act.