Dockland (Redevelopment Plan)

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd June 1976.

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Photo of Mr John Hunt Mr John Hunt , Bromley Ravensbourne 12:00 am, 23rd June 1976

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what financial support he is providing for the implementation of the redevelopment plan for London's Dockland, which has now been agreed by the joint committee of the five participating London boroughs and the Greater London Council; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Tower Hamlets Stepney and Poplar

The Docklands Joint Committee has published its draft strategic plan for the redevelopment of the area as a basis for public consultation. It does not expect to take a final decision on it until next month.

I shall be making a statement about the strategic plan and its financial implications as soon as possible after it has been agreed by the Docklands Joint Committee.

Photo of Mr John Hunt Mr John Hunt , Bromley Ravensbourne

How much longer will this go on? Is it not about time that the Government injected a sense of urgency into the redevelopment of London's decaying dockland? Will the Secretary of State explain what is the point of the Greater London Council and the inner London authorities seeking housing land in the outer London boroughs when they have 5,500 acres available for redevelopment on their doorsteps? Will the Minister also specifically say what is the Government''s position about the extension of the Underground railway system into Dockland? This seems to be an essential prerequisite for the viable redevelopment of Dockland, which should be got under way as urgently as possible.

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Tower Hamlets Stepney and Poplar

As a member of a party which, when in government, presided over the dereliction of Dockland for three years while carrying out the abortive Travers Morgan studies, the hon. Gentleman has a great nerve to accuse us of being dilatory. The Docklands Joint Committee has only recently published its report. It is out for consultation, and all those interested have been asked to comment so that they can go firm on it by the middle of July. We shall respond to it as soon as it is before us.

Dealing with the one matter of substance about which the hon. Gentleman asked me, which was the transport strategy in Dockland's development, especially the Fleet and River lines, obviously I cannot respond in advance of my general consideration of the whole Dockland strategy.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Wandsworth Battersea North

Whatever painful economies have to be made in local authority expenditure, does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be a false economy to leave this valuable land unused for very much longer?

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Tower Hamlets Stepney and Poplar

I wholly agree. There is here a major opportunity to contribute not only to the problems facing the hard-pressed boroughs which surround London's East End but to the solution of the general problems of the whole of our capital city. I am very anxious that we shall be able, in conjunction with the GLC and the local authorities, to proceed in our efforts to revitalise the area.

Photo of Mr Arthur Jones Mr Arthur Jones , Daventry

Are the Government making central funds available for the revitalisation of this vast area of central London? If a grant is to be made, will it be done on the basis of the present joint committee, or is the Government's mind still open on the question whether a development corporation would be a more suitable instrument?

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Tower Hamlets Stepney and Poplar

I must tell the hon. Member that my mind is not open on a development corporation, if by this he means the kind of body that has been established to develop the various new towns surrounding our capital. I am not in favour of this, nor are the people in the area concerned. Dockland is part of the local authority areas concerned, and there is an intimate connection between these areas and their local authorities. I think it would be advisable for me to guard my response for the time being on the financial point.

Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Haringey Tottenham

Does my right hon. Friend not agree that the purpose of this question is that the hon. Member for Ravensbourne (Mr. Hunt) would prefer the working peasants to live in council houses in Dockland, and not occupy land in Bromley?

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Tower Hamlets Stepney and Poplar

I am not sure what particular interest the hon. Member for Ravensbourne (Mr. Hunt) has, and it would be unwise for me to speculate on his motives, but his Question has given me the opportunity to make a statement of an interim character on Dockland, and I am grateful for that.