§ Mr. Amess
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans to exercise his powers under the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 to compel public bodies to dispose of their interests in land entered in the registers of unused and under-used land.
§ Mr. Macfarlane
The Government are determined that unused and underused publicly-owned land should be brought into full use as soon as possible.
My right hon. Friend has therefore today issued notices under section 99 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 relating to 50 sites entered on the registers of unused and under-used publicly owned land. The notices advise the landowners concerned that he proposes to direct them to dispose of these sites. The notices give the landowning bodies the opportunity to make representations to the Secretary of State as to why he should not direct them to dispose of their interest in the land or as to the contents of the proposed direction. A list of the 50 sites, which in total amount to 157 hectares of land, has been placed in the Library of the House.
Since the land registers were established about 8,000 hectares of land have been removed because they have been either sold or brought back into full use. We are very concerned that the momentum achieved so far should be maintained and these notices are a demonstration of our commitment.
We will continue to look closely at sites on the register with a view to identifying further candidates for disposal. In addition, as my right hon. Friend has recently made clear, we are keen that companies, developers and other interested parties should draw to our attention any publicly 375W owned land which they believe is underused and should be on the register and any registered land which they believe should be sold.