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Column 721Department of the Environment
Planning Inspectorate IT Project Management
Export Credits Guarantee Department
IT Operational Support
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Department of Health
Operation and redevelopment of Hospital Episodes Statistics System
Office and Building Service London
Office Services, Quarry House
Typing Services Publications
Waste Disposal (Forensic Science Service)
Estate Management (Forensic Science Service)
HM Prison Blakenhurst
Writing Training Material
HM Land Registry
Department of National Heritage
Hampton Court Garden Maintenance
Department of National Savings
Catering Services, Durham
Northern Ireland Civil Service
Property Certificate Service
Operating Mainframe Computer
Office of Public Service and Science
Reprographics (Chessington Computer Centre)
Press Relations (Civil Service College)
Catering and Related (Civil Service College)
Distribution (Civil Service College)
London Centre Relocation (Civil Service College)
Building and Grounds Maintenance (Civil Service College) Catering (RAS)
Column 722Ordnance Survey
Bulk Enveloping and Dispatch
Catering, Fire School
Department of Social Security
Travel Services (Benefits Agency)
Facilities Management (HQ)
Department of Trade and Industry
Treasury Solicitor's Department
Mr. Gummer: As part of their strategy to revitalise their town centres I have encouraged local authorities to assess the capacity of their town centre for further retail development and to promote retail development in or on the edge of town centres through their development plan.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: In 1984 and 1989 local authorities awarded 229,000 and 98,000 home improvement grants respectively. In 1993 90, 000 grants were given under the new provisions of part VIII of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989.
Mr. Barry Field: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the extent to which modern supermarkets in the right place can improve local services and attract new investment to the town centre economy.
Mr. Gummer: Retail developments in town centres increase the choice, widen the opportunities available, and add to the attraction of those centres. Supermarkets located in the right place, in or next to town centres, can provide the anchor for other types of retailing, and thus help ensure the viability of town centres.
issuing guidance to local planning authorities to focus retail development in or next to town centres through policies and proposals in their development plans;
advising on good practice for local authorities to help them implement this guidance; and
encouraging positive promotion of town centres and town centre management.
I intend to consider this matter further, among other issues, at a symposium on quality in town and country which I am hosting on 12 December.
Sir Paul Beresford: Current planning policy guidance on the change of use of buildings in town centres is contained in planning policy guidance note No. 6, "Town Centres and Retail Developments", issued in July 1993. There are no current proposals to issue new guidance. There are, however, proposals to extend permitted development rights so that the use of space above shops can be changed to a single flat or back again without a planning application, provided there is no material alteration to the outside of the building.
Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many homeless families there are (a) nationally, (b) in Greater London and (c) in Redbridge; how many there were in 1979; and what plans he has to reduce the numbers.
Mr. Curry: During the 12 months ending June this year 128,062 households were accepted as statutorily homeless by local authorities in England, 30,920 by the London boroughs and 586 by the London borough of Redbridge. The equivalent figures for 1979 were 55,530, 16,400 and 311. The number of acceptances over the previous 12 months has now fallen for nine successive quarters.
Mr. Curry: The most recent figures show that for nine quarters in succession English local authorities have accepted fewer households as statutorily homeless than in the same period 12 months previously. Moreover, the number of households in temporary accommodation fell 13 per cent. and the number in bed-and-breakfast hotels went down 27 per cent., compared with 12 months earlier. I find these figures encouraging.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: As my right hon. Friend the then Minister for Housing, Inner Cities and Construction told the House on 18 July 1994, Official Report , columns 21-23 , we intend to introduce legislation when parliamentary time permits.
The market place remains the main stimulus to competition. Through planning policy guidance notes Nos. 6 and 13, competition is being encouraged to take place in a way that reinforces rather than undermines the vitality and viability of existing town centres.
Mr. Atkins: Significant progress has been made over the last twelve months. This will be extensively reported both in my Department's annual report early next year and in the annual White Paper report on the environment which I will publish in spring.
Sir Paul Beresford: My right hon. Friend regularly discusses matters concerning transport and the environment with our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. Most recently, we discussed the Government's initial response to the report on transport produced by the Royal Commission on environmental pollution.
Mrs. Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the percentage increase in rents for new housing association assured tenancies between 1989 and 1994; and what has been the changes in retail prices index over the same period.
Mr. Robert B. Jones: Average rents for new housing association assured tenancies increased by 84.5 per cent. between 1989 and the first half of 1994. Over the same period, the proportion of the total housing association stock represented by these lettings rose from 10 per cent. to 14 per cent.
Column 725The retail prices index increased by 24.4 per cent. over the same period.
Mr. Curry: I have had discussions with the local authority associations in the Consultative Council on Local Government Finance. Ministers have also received delegations from individual local authorities, including one from Coventry city council on 24 November 1994.