Vacant and Underused Land

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

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Photo of Mr John Heddle Mr John Heddle , Lichfield and Tamworth 12:00 am, 23rd February 1983

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities and other public bodies holding vacant and underused land dispose of land for private housebuilding.

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey

The Department has regular contact with the House Builders Federation, which has drawn attention to registered sites that appear to it to be suitable for housing. On the basis of this information and the Department's initial appraisal, it was decided to send formal letters to 38 landowner bodies asking to know their intentions in regard to a total of 78 sites in their ownership.

Photo of Mr John Heddle Mr John Heddle , Lichfield and Tamworth

Does my hon. Friend agree that the problem of council house waiting lists could best be solved by encouraging the private sector to build homes for sale, using the half-and-half scheme and the other initiatives announced by his Department? Will he ensure that all local authorities and public sector landholders dispose of their land to the private sector as quickly as possible?

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey

We intend to encourage them so to do. Various actions are in train to achieve that objective.

Photo of Mr Arthur Newens Mr Arthur Newens , Harlow

Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that many local authorities need land for building council houses, and that many people have no hope of getting a home unless they can get a council house tenancy? In those circumstances, what will he do to prevent property speculators, who are anxious to make the most of sales to the private sector, from taking over all available land from local authorities which need it for other purposes?

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey

I remind the hon. Gentleman that the land registers produce a list of sites for which there is no planned local authority development. If they had such plans, the land would not appear on the land register list.

Photo of Mr Anthony Durant Mr Anthony Durant , Reading North

Will my hon. Friend do all that he can to encourage local authorities to look within their boundaries for vacant land to develop both private and public sector housing, rather than constantly looking outward to green field sites?

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey

I entirely agree. The land register system is one such proposal.