HC Deb 28 April 1971 vol 816 cc110-2W
Mr. Mellish

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has for redevelopment of London docklands; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Walker

As the London Port activities move down-river a unique opportunity for redevelopment of the dockland riverside area is opening up. Within a few miles of the City a massive riverside area is becoming available in which dis-used docks, decaying and derelict industrial and commercial properties and outworn housing can be replaced with an exciting and imaginative development that could transform the quality of the environment to the east of Central London.

I am determined that this opportunity shall not be lost by allowing haphazard development. I have discussed this with the Leader of the G.L.C. and with the Leaders of the London Boroughs concerned, and we are agreed on the importance and urgency of a comprehensive approach. I am arranging that my Department and the G.L.C. jointly commission an urgent and comprehensive study of the potentialities for redevelopment of the whole of the riverside area—from London and Surrey Docks in the west to Beckton in the east. The study will examine, in an objective and practical way, the possibilities for comprehensive redevelopment and the cost of the various options which may be open to us. The broad aim will be to achieve a balanced development and, above all, to improve for those living in the area the quality of their environment.

This study will be undertaken by a team of experts including engineers, planners, valuers, and other skills headed by Mr. Alfred Goldstein of R. Travers Morgan and Partners. They will retain Messrs. Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners to advise on the planning and environmental aspects of the study. The study is expected to be finished next year.

Urgent redevelopment proposals will need to be specially dealt with while the study is in progress, in a manner that is consistent with this comprehensive approach. I have therefore asked the London Boroughs concerned to consult the G.L.C. on all the planning applications which they receive for development within the study area. The G.L.C. will thus be able to consider the wider implications of these planning applications before any decisions are issued on them. I am glad to say that the London Boroughs are most willing to co-operate in this arrangement—an arrangement that will not, however, prevent progress with urgently needed housing, public utility, and other schemes.

I have discussed these proposals with the Port of London Authority who will be consulted throughout the study. They welcome the comprehensive approach to this problem. They are aware that an approach that deals properly with the outdated and inadequate transport facilities of the area, and with the social and economic problems may well enhance the potential of the resources that they own within the area concerned.

While the study is in progress I shall also be considering with the G.L.C., the Boroughs, the P.L.A. and other authorities concerned, the machinery necessary to implement speedily emerging redevelopment proposals.

I hope that the study will be the start of a process that will help to transform the quality of the environment for a community that has, for too long, been deprived of good housing, fine buildings and proper amenities, and I believe that it will lay the foundations for one of the most exciting developments of the century.