HC Deb 23 July 1987 vol 120 cc375-7W
Mr. David Nicholson

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list his powers to determine the number of extra housing units to be built in an area, beyond original proposals by the district; and what factors he has to take into account when prescribing extra construction.

Mr. Waldegrave

The Secretary of State's powers to determine the number of housing units to be built in an area are derived from his approval of county structure plans, as set out in the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, as amended. He may approve them, with or without modifications or reservation, or he may reject them. Structure plans are normally examined in public by a panel under an independent chairman. He weighs all the evidence as well as the panel's recommendations before coming to a decision.

Mr. David Nicholson

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what extra housing provision he has called for in the borough of Taunton Deane; when he made this request, and for what reason; whether he specifies the new construction to be in particular areas of the borough; and whether he specifies that account should be taken of non-statutory "green wedges", such as exist in Taunton Deane.

Mr. Waldegrave

The broad provision of housing in the borough of Taunton Deane is set out in the Somerset structure plan. Before the Secretary of State approved the first alteration to it in August 1986 he gave careful consideration to the panel's report of the examination in public. The panel acknowledged that Taunton was a major centre for development and that there were environmental constraints. They recognised the need to restrain housing growth over the district but concluded that an additional 400 dwellings would be justified in Taunton. The Secretary of State agreed.

The detailed location for development is a matter for local plans which, with the structure plan, are the framework for considering planning applications. The Secretary of State is not directly involved in the preparation of local plans, but they have to conform generally to the approved structure plan. Authorities responsible for preparing them have to take account of all material factors, including the need to protect and conserve the environment.

Mr. Meacher

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his latest estimate of the numbers of houses, also expressed as a percentage of the total, in Oldham and the north-west, and nationally, which are (a) substandard dwellings and unfit, (b) fit but lacking one or more basic amenities and (c) non-substandard dwellings in need of renovation.

Mr. Waldegrave

Local authorities are asked for these figures in their annual housing investment programme returns; the figures are not necessarily comparable as authorities' criteria differ and they are not consistent with national estimates from the English house condition survey 1981.

The figures relating to April 1986 provided by Oldham and estimates for the north-west and for England, including allowance for any missing returns, are as follows:

Oldham North-west England
Number Percentage of stock Number Percentage of stock Number Percentage of stock
Unfit dwellings 4,777 5–5 106,700 3–9 654,000 3–5
Dwellings fit but lacking basic amenities 3,370 3–9 71,600 2–6 501,000 2–7
Non-substandard dwellings in need of renovation1 16,206 18–6 508,800 18.8 2,890,000 15–4
1 Dwellings requiring repairs estimated at more than £3,000 (£4,200 in Greater London).