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16 Oct 2002 : Column 895W—continued


Mr. Stewart: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to tackle housing abandonment in the North West. [71959]

The Deputy Prime Minister: I am determined to help areas where the housing market has collapsed. That is why this Government has established nine Pathfinder projects dedicated to providing lasting solutions for communities blighted by abandoned homes. Four are located in the North West.

Mr. Hugh Robertson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his plans for new housing in Kent. [71960]

Mr. McNulty: It is the responsibility of Kent County Council to decide on housing provision in line with Regional Planning Guidance for the South East issued in March 2001.

The review of the allocation of housing in the South East, which in the first instance is a matter for the South East England Regional Assembly, will be progressed through the next review of the Regional Planning Guidance.

John Mann: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has for tackling slum housing in coalfield communities. [71961]

The Deputy Prime Minister: We are determined to tackle housing market failure wherever it occurs. Low demand Pathfinder projects will provide lasting solutions for communities blighted by derelict homes through investment and innovation. Three of the recently announced Pathfinders include coalfield communities. More generally, Local Authorities have a vital role in producing comprehensive housing strategies together with action plans to tackle the problems identified.

Mr. Lamb: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the provision of affordable housing in rural areas. [71962]

Laurie Quinn: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the provision of social housing in rural areas. [71976]

Mr. McNulty: We recognise the importance of affordable housing in sustaining inclusive and thriving rural communities. We have taken substantial measures to help alleviate housing pressures, as outlined in the

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Rural White Paper. We expect to deliver around 9,000 affordable homes annually in rural areas by 2003–04, including 3,000 in small rural settlements.

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, if he will make a statement on his housing policy in the South East. [71965]

The Deputy Prime Minister: Policy on housing in the South East, is set out in Regional Planning Guidance for the South East, which was issued in March 2001.

I made a statement in July 2002, which covered housing, including London and the South East, and I stated that I would return to the House by the end of the year with a comprehensive long term programme of action.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) how many (a) detatched houses, (b) semi-detatched houses, (c) terraced houses, (d) maisonettes and (e) flats have been sold by local authorities in London under the right-to-buy scheme since 1980; [74266]

Mr. Tony McNulty: The precise information requested is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. Summary information reported by local authorities only distinguishes sales of houses (including bungalows) from flats (including maisonettes). By the end of March 2002, it is estimated slightly more than 246,000 homes had been sold by London boroughs under the RTB scheme, consisting of some 121,500 houses, and 124,500 flats.

Margaret Moran: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what measures he intends to take to bring empty private sector houses back into use. [71969]

The Deputy Prime Minister: We will shortly publish comprehensive guidance on unlocking the potential of empty properties; we intend to give local authorities powers to end the council tax discount on long-term empty homes; we are giving local authorities a range of new freedoms to assist private housing in poor condition; and we are targeting a package of measures on nine areas of low demand where the problem of abandonment is most acute. In addition, we are considering a range of measures recommended by the Transport, Local Government and the Regions Select Committee in its recent report on empty homes.

Standard Spending Assessment

Mr. Plaskitt: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on responses to the consultation on reform of the standard spending assessment. [71963]

Mr. Leslie: The formal consultation on options for the Formula Grant distribution system closed on the 30 September. We will consider the evidence, the pressures and the points made before we take decisions. Those decisions will be announced in the 2003/04 provisional settlement in due course.

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Urban Land

Paul Flynn: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what change has taken place since 1997 in the percentage of land in England that is used for urban purposes. [71966]

Mr. McNulty: In 1997 and 1998 land classified as urban increased by around 5,600 hectares a year, which is less than 0.5 per cent. of the land used for urban purposes and about 0.04 per cent. of England. The information is drawn from the Department's Land Use Change Statistics which in rural areas have a 5-year revision cycle so a complete picture is not available for more recent years.

Mobile Phone Masts

Mr. Amess: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent representations he has received on planning applications for mobile phone masts. [71968]

Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has received a wide range of representations on planning applications for telecommunications masts over the last year.

North–West Regional Assembly

Mr. Osborne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the cost of establishing an elected regional assembly in the North West. [71970]

Mr. Raynsford: Costs will vary from region to region, mainly because of the different sizes of their electorates. But we expect them all to fall in a range around #15–30m a region. This estimate includes all costs necessary to establish an assembly, including the cost of a referendum and of the first elections to an assembly.

Local Government

Mr. Casale: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on comprehensive performance assessments for local authorities. [71971]

Mr. Leslie: The Local Government White Paper, Strong Local LeadershipQuality Public Services, published in December 2001, introduced a requirement for local authorities to be assessed and categorised on the basis of a comprehensive appraisal of their performance. This Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) is intended to cover performance across an authority's full range of service areas. The Audit Commission is tasked with taking the lead in co-ordinating and delivering the new assessment process.


Mr. Swayne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his proposals to reform the planning procedures for major infrastructure projects. [71972]

Mr. McNulty: We are considering the options for taking this forward. As indicated by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister in his statement on 18 July we have accepted the Select Committee's arguments that Parliamentary Procedures for major infrastructure projects are not the best way forward.

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Park Homes

Mr. Burgon: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what action he plans to take in response to the Park Homes Working Party Report. [71974]

Mr. McNulty: We are already acting on those recommendations not requiring legislation, and will shortly publish research into the economics of park homes. We are developing other measures that require legislation, and will consult on these as soon as practicable.

Rental Homes

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, how many affordable rental homes will be built by (a) local authorities and (b) registered social landlords in the current year. [71977]

Mr. McNulty: Central government does not make forecasts of affordable housing build. We expect local authorities to plan to meet the housing requirements of the whole community, including those in need of affordable housing.

However, from information available through the Housing Corporation's monitoring of its Approved Development Programme (ADP) and support via Local Authority Social Housing Grant (LASHG), it is broadly estimated that RSLs will be complete between 16,000 and 17,000 new homes by for rent (excluding shared ownership) during 2002–03.

RSLs remain the principal providers of new social housing. Local authorities build very few new dwellings, generally only in special circumstances.

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