HL Deb 22 July 1994 vol 557 cc511-2

1.32 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater) rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 14th June be approved [21st Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this order seeks to establish a housing action trust (or HAT) for the Stonebridge estate in the London borough of Brent to join the five already established and working to regenerate their communities in Liverpool, Birmingham, Hull, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

When the idea of housing action trusts was first mooted there was some opposition to the idea. That conflict is now behind us, and I welcome that. For the HAT idea is benefiting those who need it most. Tenants on the Stonebridge estate, like all the other areas for which HATs have been established, voted decisively in favour of a HAT as the best means of radically improving their estate and their prospects.

The estate has the reputation of being one of the worst in the country. It comprises some 1,700 dwellings in a mixture of high-rise and medium-rise blocks, with some town houses around the edge of the estate. Several of the blocks and most of the town houses have structural problems. Unemployment and crime levels are high. Fear of crime is even higher.

A prime statutory objective of any HAT is to improve the housing accommodation on the estate and to manage and use that accommodation effectively. But HATs are also charged with improving the economic, social and environmental conditions of their areas. Picking up the concerns already voiced by residents on the estate, the shadow HAT has said that it will attach great priority to improving access to jobs for the estate's residents. The major capital projects that the HAT will undertake would create jobs. The HAT will also train its residents to help them gain access to those and other jobs. It will also look to forge close links with the police, the local authority, and other agencies to tackle crime on the estate. It will seek to make the estate a better place on which to live by providing new or improved community, youth and leisure facilities. Above all, it will involve tenants in the day-to-day management of the estate.

Stonebridge tenants are keen for the. HAT to make a start and the shadow board is eager to bring the benefits of the HAT to all estate residents. I commend the order to the House. It is a crucial step towards realising the opportunities which the HAT can bring to those who live there. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 14th June be approved [21st Report from the Joint Committee].—(Viscount Ullswater.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.