HC Deb 08 May 1987 vol 115 cc558-9W
Mr. Trotter

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement on the future of the north-east new towns.

Mr. John Patten

On 22 December 1986 I undertook consultations under section 41 of the New Towns Act 1981 inviting comments on my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment's proposals to wind up the new town development corporations of Aycliffe and Peterlee and of Washington on 31 March 1988; to dispose of their remaining assets to the private sector; to give English Estates the opportunity to purchase any unsold industrial assets; and to transfer any remaining assets and liabilities to the Commission for the New Towns.

My right hon. Friend and I have considered carefully the various responses received; we are most grateful to all those who let us have their comments. Having taken these into account, my right hon. Friend confirms his intention to wind-up the two development corporations on 31 March 1988. The necessary order will be made later this year.

My right hon. Friend and I are grateful to the development corporations for the steps they have so far taken in encouraging tenants to purchase their properties and in marketing their assets to the private sector, through, for example, the appointment of agents. We look forward to seeing the results of the marketing exercise. In assessing these, we shall want to take into account not only the size of the offers made but also the interests of the region.

Where assets are not purchased by the private sector, we continue to take the view that English Estates should have the opportunity to acquire industrial properties and that otherwise the remaining assets and liabilities should be transferred to the Commission for the New Towns.