HC Deb 10 June 1986 vol 99 cc115-7W
Mr. Murphy

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will indicate the main achievements of Her Majesty's Government with respect to urban and new town affairs in the last seven years.

Mr. John Patten

The main initiatives and expenditure programmes of my Department which are specifically targeted on urban areas are as follows:

The Urban Programme

Public expenditure provision for the urban programme has risen from £93 million in 1978–79 to £317 million in 1986–87. Total provision for the period 1979–80 to 1986–87 has been £2.2 billion. Resources are allocated to the areas of most severe urban deprivation. Local authorities are required to use them in support of strategies which develop a co-ordinated action programme to tackle the needs of their inner areas. They are encouraged to work with the private and voluntary sectors and other public agencies to tackle unemployment, dereliction and social stress. Priority is given to projects which promote economic activity, enterprise, private investment and self-help. It is estimated that programme outputs for 1986–87 in partnership and programme authority areas will include:

  • 900 new or converted starter/enterprise units
  • 800 business starts in enterprise workshops
  • 24,000 jobs created or preserved
  • 2,500 acres of reclaimed derelict land
  • 2,400 vacant or underused buildings improved
  • 70,000 dwellings in environmental improvement schemes
  • 1,000 sport and recreation projects with 350,000 visits by users per week.

Urban Development Grant

The urban programme for 1986–87 includes £29 million for the urban development grant scheme. Since it was launched in late 1982 £87.8 million of urban development grants have led to:

  • —Investment of £384.1 million by the private sector (a gearing ratio of 1:4.2)
  • —Development of over 3¾ million sq ft of industrial floorspace
  • —Creation or retention of over 20,000 jobs at an average cost to the public sector of £3,400 per job
  • —Provision of 4,200 new homes
  • —Reclamation of over 600 acres of derelict land.

Derelict Land Reclamation

Public expenditure provision for derelict land reclamation has more than doubled in real terms; it has been increased from £23 million in 1979–80 to £78 million in 1986–87 and priority is now given to schemes designed to facilitate housing or industrial development, especially in urban areas. Total provision over the same period was £480 million.

Land Registers

Land registers have been et up to get unused and underused land that is owned by public bodies back into use. There are currently 107,000 acres recorded on the land registers of which about 29,000 acres (27 per cent.) are in inner city areas. Since the registers were set up in mid-1981:

  • — 148,000 acres of land has been registered
  • — 38,000 acres of land has been removed, of which 20,000 acres were disposed of 7,000 acres were brought into use
    • 11,000 acres were removed for other reasons e.g. privatisation.

Enterprise Zones

Enterprise zones have been established in areas that had experienced a period of severe economic decline. There are now 25 zones in the United Kingdom which provide benefits in combating dereliction and establishing a focus for economic activity and investment.

Urban Development Corporations

In the London Docklands Development Corporation area, £250 million of public investment has secured £1,000 million of private investment.

  • 6,000 jobs have been created or retained
  • 1,500 temporary jobs have been created
  • 550 acres of land have been reclaimed for new uses.

In the Merseyside Development Corporation area £118 million of public investment has led to

  • 650 permanent jobs
  • 1,070 temporary jobs
  • 326 acres of land reclaimed for new uses
  • 73,000 sq m of refurbished floorspace.

New Towns

The Government's policy is to bring the programme to a successful conclusion with the maximum possible involvement of the private sector and to disengage from the new towns leaving self-sufficient communities able to generate their own growth without special assistance from the public sector. To this end, since 1979

Nine new town development corporations have been wound up and four others have been merged into two joint corporations.

Transfer of the corporations' housing stock has been carried out in five towns leaving six of the 21 English new towns with housing transfer outstanding. Wherever appropriate, alternatives to the transfer to the local authority arc to be considered, in consultation with the tenants.

Certain community related assets have been transferred in seven towns.

Legislation has been passed providing for the winding up of the Commission for the New Towns' assets.

Legislation has been passed which will lead to an improved financial system for the new towns.

The intention to bring certain new town matters within the scope of the Ombudsman has been announced.

Government policy has led to a number of important achievements by the new town corporations and the commission including:

The realisation since 1979 of about £1.25 billion from the sale of assets (approximately £850 million from sales of industrial and commercial property and approximately £450 million from sales of dwellings and housing land).

The sale of over 13,000 dwellings to tenants.

Securing the development on new town land of nearly 58,000 dwellings including about 31,000 for owner-occupation and 3,500 for shared ownership.

The completion of more than 2.5 million sq m of industrial space and 350,000 sq m of office space, a substantial amount of which is for overseas companies and which has created many new jobs.