HC Deb 10 March 1997 vol 292 cc76-7W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what is the policy of English Partnerships in respect of negotiations with Coventry city council regarding the Willenhall shopping precinct project; [18889]

(2) what are the reasons for the delays in the negotiations between English Partnerships and those partners involved in the Willenhall shopping precinct project; [18890]

(3) if he will commission an urgent inquiry into the manner in which English Partnerships has handled negotiations with those partners involved in the Willenhall shopping precinct project. [18891]

Sir Paul Beresford

English Partnerships received an application from a private developer, Bellway Urban Renewal, in July 1996 for funding of £1.7 million towards a proposal it had developed with Coventry city council and the Coventry and East Mercia Co-operative Society for the development of Willenhall shopping precinct. The agency has been consistently supportive of the project and has submitted it to close and careful appraisal to ensure the best value for money, as it does for every other part of its programme. English Partnerships has now confirmed its offer to Bellway Urban Renewal, and a press conference and start on site, both involving the city council, are scheduled for Monday 10 March. English Partnerships has a strong working relationship with Coventry city council, spanning a wide range of projects of which this is a key component.

The time scale is customary for a project of this size and complexity, which has required negotiation with a number of parties, including the local community.