HC Deb 12 March 1986 vol 93 cc463-4W
Mr. Iain Mills

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has reached a decision on proposals submitted to his urban housing renewal unit for schemes in the west midlands.

Sir George Young

Earlier today, on a visit to Coventry, I had the opportunity to visit the Hillfields estate. I was also able to announce my right hon. Friend's favourite response to a proposal for a scheme on the Hillfields estate which the city council has worked up in close consultation with my Department's urban housing renewal unit. We hope to reach agreement with the council on further schemes in due course.

The council has already introduced responsive locally based management arrangements on the estate, and is seeking to deliver a comprehensive housing service and to involve the residents in day-to-day decisions which affect their lives. The proposal agreed with the unit will be a major further step in the process of improving the quality of life on this rundown estate.

The Hillfields estate consists of 644 dwellings in ten tower blocks. Coventry city council has submitted a bid for resources from the unit's targeted housing investment programme allocation to replace defective heating systems, improve insulation, and provide extra lifts. I have agreed in principle to an additional HIP allocation of up to £779,000 for this programme in 1986–87. The estate will also benefit from a community refurbishment scheme, the aim of which is to enable unemployed people drawn mainly from the estate to work on improvements to the environment and communal areas. The scheme will provide up to 70 jobs, and will be funded by the Government's community programme, subject to the agreement of the Manpower Services Commission's area board, and my Department's urban programme. Resources of the order of £999,000 will be involved, including some £320,000 of urban programme funding, which I am pleased to approve in principle.

I warmly welcome the development of this package, and the close co-operation between the council and my Department's regional office and the staff and consultants of the urban housing renewal unit, which has made them possible.