HL Deb 08 October 1981 vol 424 cc193-4

3.21 p.m.

Lord Gainford

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much publicly owned land has been identified as available for development in the land registers so far published.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, some 20,000 acres of publicly owned unused or under-used land has now been registered in the districts so far designated. Almost half has potential for development, and about a fifth is on the market or being prepared for development or use.

Lord Gainford

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that encouraging Answer. Can he give any information as to how quickly Her Majesty's Government will implement any plans they have and, knowing that some of the land will be considered for housing, are there any plans available for the areas that are obviously unsuitable for housing?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, it is an early stage to go into details of what development there will be, but it is intended to build on the success already achieved. The remaining 330 districts in England will be designated and it is intended to publish all registers by April 1st, 1982.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl whether the Government have any plans to compile similar information on unused and under-used land in private hands which may be sat on in the hope that there may be increased land values?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, no. It is not intended to do this on, the grounds that private land is already, as it were, for values that it must have, turning over very quickly. It does not sit idle as this public land has.

Lord Gisborough

My Lords, can the noble Earl say what is the estimated lack of revenue to local authorities throughout the country as a result of this long underdevelopment or lack of development of available land?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I have no exact figures but I think we would all agree that it has been a national scandal that all elements of the public sector should have allowed so much land, often in the heart of great cities, to have been sterilised for so long for lack of positive action. These registers we hope will eradicate dereliction and decay and also enhance a great base of local government and make the cities more attractive places in which to live.

Lord Wallace of Coslany

My Lords, can the noble Earl say how much of this publicly owned land is owned by local authorities who are unable to build houses that they want to build because of Government policy?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, again I have no figures with which to answer the noble Lord directly, but this is central heartland which has been left idle. I do not believe that any council would have left it idle for housing.