§ 53. Mr. Haynes
asked the Secretary of State of the Environment if he will make a statement on the loss of agricultural land to housing development.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
The transfer of agricultural land to urban uses, including housing, is dealt with in the publication "Rural Enterprise and Development" issued on 10 March. The rate of transfer of farmland has fallen from over 15,000 hectares a year before 1975 to less than 5,000 hectares a year in England and Wales in the period 1980 to 1985. That recent rate is not expected to change significantly as a result of the adjustments to planning policy proposed in the draft circular "Development involving Agricultural Land".
Recording of changes in the use of land by Ordnance Survey, introduced in 1985, shows that under half of the land used for new housing in England is transferred from farmland. About 45 per cent. of the land developed for housing is on derelict, redeveloped or unused land in urban areas.