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Eco-towns: Nature Conservation

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) by what means the Eco Towns Challenge Panels plans to take account of expertise in biodiversity and wildlife management and protection in the course of its work; [219527]

(2) what steps she is taking to ensure that the establishment and development of eco-towns does not undermine the preservation and protection of biodiversity. [219528]

Caroline Flint: The preservation of important wildlife and landscape assets is one of the key criteria for new eco-towns. The Eco-town Challenge Panel is an independent group of people with expertise in various aspects of urban and sustainable development. The Panel exists to encourage bidders by challenging them to improve and develop their proposals to the point where they can be regarded as truly exemplary projects, which fit well within their surroundings, demonstrate innovative approaches to sustainable development and represent a ‘step change’ beyond what would currently be regarded as best practice. Of the members of the Challenge Panel, three are experts in environmental issues.

Natural England, Government's agency working to conserve, enhance and manage the natural environment, was fully involved in the initial assessment and shortlisting of the eco-town proposals. Furthermore, there will shortly be a second Government consultation on a sustainability appraisal, which provides a more detailed assessment of locations, and a draft Planning Policy Statement, before we identify a final list. These locations will then need to go through the planning process and be subject to full public scrutiny, where impacts on biodiversity and natural assets will be key considerations at all stages.

The sustainability appraisal will consider the environmental, economic and social impacts of eco-towns policy both nationally and in the proposed locations. This will take account of work that local authorities may have already undertaken to test development options in their area and as part of the testing process we will also consider the habitats directive.

Empty Property

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what reports her Department has received of cases of intentional property demolition to avoid empty property business rates in the latest period for which figures are available; [221222]

(2) pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield, of 9 July 2008, Official Report, column 1637W, on non-domestic rates: empty property, if she will list each of the possible incidences reported to her Department, including the location and the nature of the alleged deliberate dilapidation. [221309]

John Healey: As I indicated in my answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) on 9 July 2008, Official Report, column 1637W, the Government have asked local authorities to provide information about how reforms to the empty property rate are
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working. The information provided will be based on the informed judgment of individual local authority officers and is being gathered as a broad indicator of the scale of possible avoidance activity and not a detailed survey. We will set out in an appropriate form our general findings in due course.

Housing

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new homes are planned to be built in (a) North Northamptonshire and (b) England in the next five years. [206832]

Caroline Flint: Over 2008-12, the adopted East Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy sets out plans for 13,405 net additional dwellings in North Northamptonshire. Regional Spatial Strategies are currently under review to ensure delivery against the national target of 240,000 additional homes a year by 2016, as set out in last year's housing Green Paper.

Housing: Bournemouth

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the housing density is of Bournemouth. [220397]

Mr. Iain Wright: Information on housing density is not compiled centrally.

We do however have the density of new build dwellings averaged over a four-year period. These are provided at local authority level on the CLG website in Live table P232. The web address for Live table P232 is:

The average density of new build dwellings for the period 2003 to 2006 for the unitary authority of Bournemouth was 70 dwellings per hectare.

Housing: Construction

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether local planning authorities can meet their house building targets by proposing development of land in other counties; and what powers they have of compulsory purchase in such circumstances. [221508]

Mr. Iain Wright [holding answer 22 July 2008]: The regional strategy preparation process, which involves input from local authorities, sets housing numbers for districts. These take into account the need and demand for housing within housing market areas and the strategic availability of land within individual districts. Therefore these numbers should be planned for by individual districts but we encourage joint working between districts in doing this.

The Local Government Act 1972 gives local authorities a qualified right to purchase land compulsorily outside their areas. Whether this is possible in any given case will depend on the specific enabling power to be used.


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Housing: Immigrants

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of economic migrants entering the UK in each of the last five years have been housed in the (a) owner-occupied, (b) social rented and (c) private rented sector. [219524]

Mr. Iain Wright: Information on the current housing tenure of economic migrants who entered the UK during the past five years is not available.

However, the Department has information from the Survey of English Housing for 2005-06 and 2006-07 on the total number of recent migrant householders by housing tenure. It is estimated that of all migrant householders who arrived in the UK during the past two years and are currently living in England: 3 per cent. are in owner occupation; 7 per cent. are in the social rented sector; and 90 per cent. are in the private rented sector.

Housing: Lancashire

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department has taken to assist first-time buyers with property purchase; and which of these are available to those seeking to buy property in West Lancashire constituency. [221743]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Government's Low Cost Home Ownership programme helps to make home ownership more affordable to first time buyers, and enables purchasers get a foot on the property ladder through its HomeBuy products: New Build HomeBuy, Open Market HomeBuy and Social HomeBuy.

We have helped over 65,000 people into home ownership over the last three years, and as set out in the Housing Green Paper, we aim to help 75,000 more householders on to the property ladder over the next three years. The Government have recently announced a package of new initiatives to help more first time buyers, nationally, into affordable home ownership.


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Our Low Cost Home Ownership products, including the recent package of new initiatives, are available to first time buyers in West Lancashire.

Housing: Leeds

John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new homes were built in (a) Leeds West constituency and (b) Leeds Metropolitan District which were heated by (i) gas and (ii) electricity in the latest period for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. [220769]

Mr. Iain Wright: Data are not available for Leeds, West constituency but the Department publishes new build completions by district on its website. The number of new build completions as reported for the Leeds local authority area in 2007-08 is 3,052. The Department's statistics for new home completions do not include details of the form of heating used.

Housing: Low Incomes

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of social housing in each London borough is not of Decent Homes standard. [219277]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Department collects information on non-decent social sector homes from local authorities through the Business Plan Statistical Appendix (BPSA) annual return. Figures are provided in Table 1.


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Table 1: Non-decent homes owned by local authorities( 1) at 1 April 2007, by London borough

Non-decent homes Percentage of total local authority stock non-decent

Barking and Dagenham

6,727

34.2

Barnet

3,388

30.5

Bexley

(2)

(2)

Brent

0

0.0

Bromley

(2)

(2)

Camden

11,321

47.7

City of London

679

35.9

Croydon

2,117

15.0

Ealing

4,439

32.1

Enfield

2,864

24.1

Greenwich

9,446

38.2

Hackney

8,776

37.5

Hammersmith and Fulham

4,183

31.7

Haringey

7,099

42.7

Harrow

3,680

72.5

Havering

3,397

31.4

Hillingdon

918

8.6

Hounslow

0

0.0

Islington

11,996

44.8

Kensington and Chelsea

1,657

23.9

Kingston upon Thames

1,129

23.2

Lambeth

8,528

29.2

Lewisham

12,152

46.8

Merton

1,289

20.1

Newham

10,842

58.1

Redbridge

1,357

28.8

Richmond upon Thames

(2)

(2)

Southwark

13,608

33.1

Sutton

4,088

56.2

Tower Hamlets

9,257

59.0

Waltham Forest

6,846

64.4

Wandsworth

138

0.8

Westminster

0

0.0

(1 )Retention authorities and Arm’s Length Management Organisations only. (2) LSVT—Large Scale Voluntary Transfer. One of the three options set out by Government for those authorities that need extra funding to meet the required Decent Homes standard. LSVT aims to deliver improved performance and services ensuring the extra money is spent cost-effectively. The council is free to focus on more strategic housing functions. Source: Communities and Local Government Business Plan Statistical Appendix (BPSA).

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