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Rural Housing

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many houses have been built in rural settlements in the last five years. [22026]

Yvette Cooper: New build completions data is only available at local authority level therefore it is not possible to say how many dwellings have been built in rural settlements, only in local authorities that are classified as rural. This will therefore include dwellings built in towns that are inside a local authority classified as rural.
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The annual numbers of new build completions since 2000–01 for English local authorities defined as rural by DEFRA's Rural Definition and Local Authority Classification are in the table:
Dwellings built in local authorities classified as rural"(28)


(28) Category 4, 5 and 6 (see below) local authorities are considered to be rural and have been used to produce the data on new build housing completions. There are 178 English local authorities that are in these categories.
The classification used to define local authorities is as follows:
1. Major Urban: districts with either 100,000 people or 50 per cent. of their population in urban areas with a population of more than 750,000.
2. Large Urban: districts with either 50,000 people or 50 per cent. of their population in one of 17 urban areas with a population between 250,000 and 750,000.
3. Other Urban: districts with fewer than 37,000 people or less than 26 per cent. of their population in rural settlements and larger market towns.
4. Significant Rural: districts with more than 37,000 people or more than 26 per cent. of their population in rural settlements and larger market towns.
5. Rural-50: districts with at least 50 per cent. but less than 80 per cent. of their population in rural settlements and larger market towns.
6. Rural-80: districts with at least 80 per cent. of their population in rural settlements and larger market towns.
For further information on the classification of local authorities please see following rural definitions web link: http://statistics. asp
P2/NHBC New Build Completions data

Social Housing

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what advice he has given to housing associations on (a) their obligation to provide social housing and (b) the sale of their property with vacant possession. [22022]

Yvette Cooper: The Housing Corporation's registration guidance makes clear that to obtain registered social landlords (RSL) status, the majority of a housing association's business activity (51 per cent. or more) should be in the provision of social housing. This expectation is reiterated in the corporation's good practice note on diversification activity. RSLs have a duty to co-operate with local authorities to enable the latter to fulfil their duties to the homeless, people in priority housing need, the vulnerable and those covered by the Government's Supporting People policy. RSLs provide a proportion of their stock to local authority nominations and temporary accommodation to the homeless. These requirements are set out in the corporation's Regulatory Code and guidance.

When in receipt of funding from the Housing Corporation, RSLs must meet agreed funding conditions. All funding is subject to the provisions of the Housing Act 1996 and the corporation's published criteria, procedures and audit arrangements. Non-compliance with these requirements may result in the
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withdrawal of allocations and recovery of grant. Grant funding is also conditional upon the RSL meeting the Housing Corporation's Regulatory Code.

The voluntary disposal of properties by housing associations requires the consent of the Housing Corporation under section 9 of the Housing Act 1996. The corporation's regulatory circular (number 03/03) advises registered and unregistered housing associations on the requirements of Section 9.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will commission research on the impact of tenants and tenant representation on the running of social housing by (a) registered social landlords and (b) local authorities; and if he will make a statement. [22273]

Yvette Cooper: The Housing Corporation requires all registered social landlords to actively facilitate resident involvement and to report annually on outcomes. The corporation intends to commission a project to measure the delivery of these policy objectives with the housing association sector, and to prepare guidance to enable associations to measure the targets and impact of their annual involvement statements. The corporation has also commissioned a survey of residents seeking their views on, among other things, their involvement in the management of their homes.

In 2002 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister commissioned an interim evaluation of tenant participation compacts in local authority housing, to inform a review of the national framework guidance published in 1999. The evaluation reviewed progress on implementing tenant participation arrangements through compacts, including impact on tenants and tenant participation generally. The findings were fed into the revised national framework guidance published in March 2005.

Although the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Housing Corporation currently have no plans to commission research in addition to that already mentioned, they will continue to keep this under review.

Telecommunications Masts

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if the Government will require mobile telecommunications companies to receive positive assent to a proposal to erect a telecommunications mast before proceeding with its construction. [21464]

Yvette Cooper: All ground based masts are already subject to planning control so that if the local authority considers that the development will pose a serious threat to amenity, it is able to refuse approval. For masts over 15 metres in height a planning application is required. For masts under 15 metres in height a prior approval application is required.

Local planning authorities have the opportunity to deal with prior approval applications in the same way as a normal planning application so long as they act within eight weeks. Eight weeks is also the performance target for dealing with most planning applications for telecommunications developments.
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Thames Gateway

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister under what budget headings he expects his Department's contribution to the Thames Gateway project to be spent. [20930]

Yvette Cooper: The schemes which have been approved for funding from the Thames Gateway Programme Fund are distributed as follows:
£ million
UDC, local regeneration partnerships and
Land purchase and remediation199
Town centres27


Mike Penning: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans the Government have to issue new guidance on illegal Traveller camps and unauthorised development; and if he will make a statement. [21489]

Yvette Cooper: The Government have established a Gypsy and Traveller Unit within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, and one of its aims is to help local authorities to improve their enforcement powers. As part of its work, the Unit is also looking at the operation of these powers to see if further action or guidance is required.

Vacant Homes

Mr. Evans: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many vacant homes there are in Lancashire; and for what average period houses were vacant in each of the last five years. [21893]

Mr. Woolas [holding answer 26 October 2005]: The number of vacant homes by local authority area in Lancashire for the last five years is presented in the following table:
Number of vacant dwellings in Lancashire

The data used for 2000 and 2001 uses a combination of tenure figures available from local authorities' Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (HSSA) returns to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Registered Social Landlords' Regulatory Statistical Return (RSR) to the Housing Corporation. The data is as 1 April each year.
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The data for years 2002 onwards is as reported on CTB1 & CTB1S forms submitted by billing authorities to ODPM each year. The figures include both long and short-term empty properties. The data is as reported at a set date in November each year. It is expected that for the two sets of figures, the difference between two snap-shot dates would be insignificant.

Information on the average period houses were vacant is not available centrally.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the 20 local authorities with the greatest number of empty private sector properties at the latest date for which figures are available; how many such properties each has; and what percentage of the total private sector housing stock that figure represents in each case. [21871]

Yvette Cooper: The 20 local authorities with the greatest number of empty private sector properties at 1 April 2005 are provided in the following table:
Local authorities who reported the 20 highest figures for number of private sector vacant dwellings within their area at 1 April 2005

Local authorityNumber of private sector vacant dwellingsPrivate sector vacant dwellings as a percentage of private sector stock
Kingston upon Hull5,5337.1
Newcastle upon Tyne4,8065.9

Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (HSSA) return.

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