§ Mr. Merchant
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has reached a decision on proposals submitted to his urban housing renewal unit by Gateshead metropolitan borough council; and if he will make a statement.
§ Sir George Young
I am pleased to announce my right hon. Friend's favourable response to a proposal for a scheme in Gateshead which the metropolitan borough council has worked up in close consultation with my Department's urban housing renewal unit. We hope to reach agreement with the council on further schemes in due course.
The estate which will benefit from today's decision is the Old Fold estate in Gateshead. The council has already introduced responsive locally-based management arrangements on the estate, and is seeking to deliver a comprehensive housing service and to involve the residents in day-to-day decisions which affect their lives. The proposal agreed with the unit will be a major further step in the process of improving the quality of life on this rundown estate.
The Old Fold estate is a cottage estate of 492 dwellings built in the 1930s. The estate will benefit from a community refurbishment scheme, the aim of which is to enable unemployed people drawn mainly from the estate to work on improvements to the environment and communal areas. This scheme will provide up to 100 jobs, 561W and will be funded by the Government's community programme, subject to the agreement of the Manpower Services Commission's area board, and my Department's urban programme. Resources of the order of £1,245,000 will be involved, including some £714,000 of urban programme funding, which I am pleased to approve in principle.
I warmly welcome the development of this package, and the close co-operation between the council and my Department's regional office and the staff and consultants of the urban housing renewal unit, which has made it possible.