Vacant Land Registers

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23 February 1983.

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Photo of Mr Robert Elliott Mr Robert Elliott , Newcastle upon Tyne North 12:00, 23 February 1983

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will now seek to require unused and vacant public land under one acre to be included in the vacant land registers.

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey

I have no plans to do so at the moment. I prefer to concentrate for the time being on promoting the more effective use or disposal of land already registered, but I shall keep this question under review.

Photo of Mr Robert Elliott Mr Robert Elliott , Newcastle upon Tyne North

Is my hon. Friend aware that the land already registered as unused and derelict totals no less than 94,000 acres, much of which is in the hands of state-run industries and local authorities? Will he do his best to release that land to create employment and also to add to local authorities' rate revenue?

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey

I entirely accept my hon. Friend's point. The objective of the land register scheme is to provide information about available sites, some of which have clear potential for development.

Photo of Dr David Clark Dr David Clark Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

The House will be pleased to hear the Minister's answer today, but has he seen the survey that was conducted by the House Builders Federation, which showed that the 26,000 acres listed on the land registers included roadside verges and a six-mile rail embankment, and that only 11 per cent. of the land on the register was suitable for house building? Therefore, will he have no truck with the idea of bringing in the smaller areas?

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey

The hon. Gentleman's point should be fully and correctly answered. Although 11 per cent. of the land is available for house building, a large proportion of registered land will not be suitable for development. That has always been the case. However, it must be important that we are trying to bring every development site into productive use as soon as possible. Smaller sites will be too costly to introduce at this time.

Photo of Mr Peter Hordern Mr Peter Hordern , Horsham and Crawley

As the Government already have the power to direct local authorities and the nationalised industries to dispose of this land, why is that power not being used and why is the land not being sold so that the construction industry can be put to work?

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey

I am prepared to take action where circumstances warrant it. In recent weeks we have written to the owners of about 78 sites inviting their comment as to why they have not disposed of the sites in question. I must remind my hon. Friend that the present state of the construction industry is such that not all sites available for development are being taken up even now.