asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether any decision has yet been reached about the development of housing or a new town in the Mobberley area of Cheshire; what planning considerations have been applied; and whether he is satisfied that such development is in accordance with good planning.
I decided to proceed no further with the proposal for a new town at Mobberley when it became clear that there was no site in the area sufficiently large and at the same time sufficiently free from the risk of subsidence to justify the use of the machinery provided by the New Towns Act. I hope, however, to be able to announce a decision shortly on a separate proposal by Manchester City Council to develop a limited area at Mobberley for the reception of overspill population and industry from the city. Meanwhile, I can assure the hon. Member that all relevant planning and other considerations, including the need to provide land for Manchester's housing, will be taken into account in determining the nature and extent of any development.
Is the Minister justified in allowing a corporation to acquire for building purposes land which is unsuitable owing to salt and/or peat deposits?
That is a general question which I am not able to answer. If the hon. and gallant Member quotes a specific case to me I will deal with it.
asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning what is the amount of good agricultural land and land containing deposits of peat which are involved in the area now under consideration for the development of a new town in the Mobberley area of Cheshire; what are the precise sites under consideration; and what is the estimated loss of milk and other agricultural products which will arise from withdrawing this land from agricultural use.
I would refer the hon. Member to my answer to the previous Question. Since it is not proposed to use the machinery provided by the New Towns Act at Mobberley, the precise extent of any area that may be developed there will primarily be a matter for settlement between the local authorities concerned. The Ministry of Agriculture will, however, be consulted about the boundary of any site which it may be proposed to develop, and about the stages by which land should be withdrawn from agricultural use.
In view of the urgent necessity of producing as much food as possible in this country, is it wise to develop a new town on land which consists of part of the best agricultural land in Cheshire?
That is, of course, the reason for the discussions which will be taking place with the Ministry of Agriculture for the purpose of determining the exact site.
Cannot the overspill population of Manchester be rehoused in Lancashire on land which is of less agricultural value than in Cheshire?
That point has, of course, been considered, but some of the large towns in Lancashire themselves have overspill populations.
Are there not alternative sites within reasonable access of Manchester, where the land is of less agricultural value? Have not the National Farmers' Union already submitted alternative proposals?
I am satisfied that there is no land of less agricultural value which would be satisfactory for this purpose.
Is it not possible that if we excavated enough peat we would find an old town of Mobberley?
Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind the shortage of building land in Lancashire, and take whatever steps are available to provide building land in the adjoining areas?
asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning what will be the approximate cost of excavating the peat, filling up and compaction per acre in the sites under consideration for development of a new town in the Mobberley area of Cheshire.
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to my answer to the previous Questions. The cost of preparing any site for development could not be estimated until the site has been fairly precisely defined.
Will there be auger borings on a grid system to ascertain the amount of the deposits of peat and/or salt under the site in question; and is this not now more than ever necessary in view of the borings which have already disclosed deposits of peat and/or salt in that area?
All necessary investigations of the site will, of course, be made.
Will the right hon. Gentleman inform us whether there has been or will be a full public inquiry which will cover the points raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Knutsford (Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport)?
Quite naturally, if any objection is taken to the site which is eventually chosen, there will be a public inquiry.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is considerable local apprehension about this matter, and will he initiate an inquiry before any further action is taken?
There is adequate machinery for objections. If there is this considerable apprehension, I have no doubt that it will make itself felt by objections.