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Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Andrews: To date, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has received five ministerial letters from residents via their MP and one from a non-governmental body, the Merseyside Civic Trust, opposing the housing market renewal programme. In other correspondence we have received approximately 25 letters and e-mails voicing similar opposition or concerns. One of these letters was from the Spital Hill Local Voice group based in Sheffield.

The Ancient Monuments Society, the Victorian Society, the Council for British Archaeology, the Heritage Trust for the Northwest and the Prince's Trust have not expressed a formal view to the Government on the HMR programme. Save Britain's Heritage gave evidence in the recent Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Select Committee on Empty Homes and Low Demand Pathfinders, which can be found at The Government will be responding to this report shortly.

English Heritage has recently produced a policy position statement on housing market renewal in which it recommended that Pathfinders should undertake an assessment of the historic environment to help to inform the regeneration of their areas. The Government agree with this. English Heritage accepts that a reduction of the housing stock is necessary and that some demolition is inevitable.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Andrews: None. This is a matter for the local authority and Pathfinder concerned.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Andrews: Decisions about which property to compulsorily purchase, demolish, refurbish or leave are not taken by government, unless they are "called in" via the planning process. They are instead the responsibility of the local authority concerned as the statutory body, informed by the Pathfinder strategy.

Plans for different types of intervention, including decisions to proceed with demolition of properties, are not taken on the basis of simple drive-by surveys. They are informed by various factors, including neighbourhood renewal assessment (or other similar comprehensive assessment), community views, analyses of supply and demand, housing stock condition, demographics
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and wider strategies (at local authority, sub-regional and regional level) for the economic and social future of the places covered by Pathfinders.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not publish as a matter of course information regarding particular houses and streets affected by Pathfinders. Individual Pathfinders are expected to do so (for instance, in the form of draft area development frameworks) to inform consultation and community involvement and as part of the normal local authority decision taking and statutory planning process where relevant.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Andrews: A dwelling is statutorily unfit if, in the opinion of the local housing authority, it fails under the criteria set out in Section 604 of the Housing Act 1985 and by reason of that failure is not reasonably suitable for occupation. The authority has a duty to take the most satisfactory course of action in relation to unfit dwellings. The provisions in the Housing Act 1985 enable authorities to acquire statutorily unfit property either through agreement or by compulsory purchase.

London Boroughs: Private Residential Developments

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Andrews: Development undertaken on London-wide initiative sites will be subject to the normal planning regime. Current policy on the application of planning obligations as set out in DoE Circular 1/97 makes no distinction between public and private sector developers. This is because the same planning requirements for the mitigation of impacts relate to all types of development.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Andrews: Work is continuing between English Partnerships and its development partners and the relevant local authorities on the total number and mix of units on each site to be developed under the London-wide initiative. The London-wide homes will be shared equity homes for eligible groups, such as key workers and first-time buyers.

In addition, a wider range of affordable homes giving a choice of tenures will be provided under planning obligations agreed with the relevant local authorities.

English Partnerships

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Andrews: The first tranche of 67 surplus hospital sites transferred from the Department of Health to English Partnerships on 6 April 2005. Other sites will transfer to English Partnerships. The land will be used to help to deliver growth and regeneration including the provision of more affordable homes. English Partnerships is now working up future plans for the sites.

Residential housing development will take place where sites are assessed as suitable. The provision of mixed-tenure housing development will tackle the problem of housing shortages and the demand for affordable homes for key workers and first-time buyers. Where it is appropriate for residential development to take place on a site, regional strategies and local development plans should include provision for social rented housing. The amount of social rented housing will be a matter for discussion with the relevant local planning authority taking account of local needs.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Andrews: English Partnerships published its first quarterly report on the register of surplus public sector land in March 2005. A copy of the report was placed in the Library of the House. An updated report on the register is expected to be published in June 2005. Following publication the report will be available on English Partnership's website.


Baroness Hanham asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Andrews: The date of contract award depends upon the outcome of the evaluation of the bids from potential suppliers and will reflect the suppliers' proposals. It is important that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister secures a contract that meets the needs of the fire and rescue services and provides value for money for the taxpayer. Contract award is expected to be in the autumn.

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