§ Mr. Baldry
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement on his consultancy study of the housing potential of the five large sites in East Thames-side.
§ Mr. Ridley
The study has provided information on the potential of the five areas in east London for housing development. A copy of the study report is in the Library. It is clear these areas at the Greenwich peninsula, Beckton, Barking reach, the lower Lea Valley and Stratford can make an important contribution towards meeting the pressing housing needs of east London.
The capacity of the areas considered developable depends on many factors, not least decisions on a balance of land uses and the chosen density of housing development. The five areas are substantially owned by local authorities, other public bodies or recently privatised industries. Although parts are in useful occupation, within the areas extensive sites remain undeveloped or underused. To a considerable extent their lack of productive use has been the result of prolonged designation as operational land despite a lack of specific plans for their actual development. Realisation of the unsatisfactory nature of this situation has been growing among those directly concerned. The reasons are, principally, pressure from Government, the rising value of the asset and the opportunity cost of its underuse, and initiative in some cases by local planning authorities. Each of the five areas will require a different solution. To prosper they will need concerted and co-ordinated action by the local authorities, landowners and developers.
There is now enormous scope for mixed housing for at least 20,000 new homes including low-cost dwellings. The study and the Government's new initiatives to improve transport for Docklands and East Thames-side have now helped to bring the prospect of development nearer.