HC Deb 24 November 1952 vol 508 cc11-3W
Mr. Bossom

asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) if he is aware that about 5,000 acres of good agricultural land are being lost in Kent annually to other than agricultural purposes; and if he will do his utmost to stop the continuation of this drain upon land capable of producing needed food;

(2) what record or survey exists of the good agricultural land in Kent; and, if he will consider having one prepared and then see that none of this, in future, is used for other than agricultural or horticultural purposes, except with his own personal approval.

Sir T. Dugdale

The Land Utilisation Survey of Britain, 1931–43, directed by Dr. Dudley Stamp, provides a broad classification of agricultural land in Kent and throughout the country generally. I am aware of the annual loss of agricultural land for building and other development.

My Department is consulted on all proposals to take or use agricultural land for development which number several thousands each year. It would be impossible for me to deal, personally with every one of them, but my officers are under instructions to bring to my notice all cases raising important issues. Acquiescence in any proposals for development is not given unless my officers or I are satisfied that the proposed development is fully justified and there is no practicable alternative. I can assure my hon. Friend that everything possible is done to avoid the unnecessary loss of any farm land.

Mr. Bossom

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) if he will instruct all local authorities in Kent not to allow good agricultural land to be used for other than food production purposes except with his consent;

(2) if he will instruct urban district councils that good agricultural land within their own boundaries anywhere in England should not be used for any other purpose than farming, except with his consent;

(3) what survey of the county of Kent exists, illustrating where there is land that would be appropriate for industrial housing or playing-field purposes, which is no good agricultural land; and if he wil consider requiring local authorities to prepare such information.

Mr. H. Macmillan

I would refer my hon. Friend to Ministry of Town and Country Planning Circular 99, of which I am sending him a copy. As regards the County of Kent, the County Council a local planning authority have already made a survey of the whole county covering,inter alia, the suitability of land for development and other purposes. The report of this survey accompanies Part A of the Development Plan for Kent which is now before me, and I think that the County Council could let my hon. Friend see a copy. In reaching my decision on the plan, I shall give due weight to the importance of preserving good agricultural land.