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Town And Country Planning

Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 21 June 1949

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New Towns (Front Gardens)


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning under what powers the development corporations of the new towns are dictating the lay-out of the front gardens of houses.

Any powers in this matter possessed by new towns development corporations would derive from their status as landlords. I am unaware that any corporation has exercised such powers in the way the hon. and gallant Member suggests.

Is it to be assumed from the right hon. Gentleman's reply that if anybody objects to an order by a development corporation to arrange his front garden in the way in which the corporation insists—that is, a uniform way—then he is at liberty to refuse?

Yes, unless it is a condition of tenancy, and I do not for a moment imagine that that situation will arise.

Development Value (Claims)


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning how many claims for loss of development value have now been received.

Is the Minister satisfied that by 30th June a substantial number of those entitled to claim will have done so? Will he ask the B.B.C. and the Press to remind the public about these important matters?

I am satisfied that the public generally are fully alive to the fact that 30th June is the last date.

What proportion of the £300 million do these 331,000 claims represent? What is the value of the claims?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the reconstruction areas of blitzed cities, where compulsory purchase orders have been announced, there are people who do not know whether claims should be made by the local authority which is acquiring or by the individual who owns the property? Will he make that point clear to the general public?

Can the Minister say whether the total of the claims has, in fact, exceeded the £300 million? He must at least know whether it is near it or not.

Tree-Felling, Hodders Combe


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he is aware that widespread tree-felling is taking place in Hodders Combe in the Quantock Hills; to what extent this is to continue; whether it is intended to replace the natural beech and oak with conifer plantations; and whether consideration has been given to the fact that this area is part of the proposed Exmoor National Park.


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he will take action to prevent the further felling of timber in Hodders Combe, a part of the Quantocks, scheduled as a national park, pending an inquiry into the possibility of a fund to preserve this land in its present state.

So far as I am aware the tree-felling in the area referred to is not at present on an extensive scale and the area is not likely to be cleared of timber in the near future. The area licensed for felling is Lady's Edge, Black Ball Wood and part of Bircham Wood, and forms part of a much larger area over which the Forestry Commission are negotiating a lease. Under the lease the subsequent regeneration of the woods would be undertaken by the Forestry Commission who would have full regard to amenity and to the desirability of some hardwood planting. At this stage it is not possible to say the species of trees which would be planted in specific areas. Further felling of the timber can be prevented only if a Tree Preservation Order is in operation. The Somerset County Council have submitted a draft order which I am now considering.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Forestry Commission have stated that they propose planting conifers in place of the oaks there now and that there is great indignation over the despoliation of this beauty spot, which is very rapid? Can he look further into the matter, as this reply does not appear to be quite in accordance with local knowledge?

This question of conifers and hardwood is a very debatable one and I would hesitate to embark upon a controversy with the Forestry Commission.

Will the Minister also bear in mind that this tree-felling is proceeding at a much greater speed than his answer suggests? Would he consider whether something cannot be done to save this very beautiful part of Britain?

I thought the hon. Member would be gratified to know that the Somerset County Council have intervened and that I propose to act very speedily.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the beeches and oaks are the glory of some of our countryside and can never be replaced by conifers?

I understand they do not grow everywhere and one has to have regard to the nature of the soil.

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that enough tree preservation orders are being made to preserve from devastation the remaining hardwood in this country?

This is a matter for the local planning authorities and I hope they will bear in mind the need for being vigilant and will act promptly.

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain what he means when he says he would hesitate to have a controversy with the Forestry Commission? The Forestry Commission are responsible to the Minister of Agriculture and it is, therefore, the Minister of Agriculture who must take responsibility in these matters. What does he mean when he talks about having no controversy with the Forestry Commission?

All I mean is a controversy on technical matters, such as the suitability of a particular soil for the growing of particular trees, but I am very conscious of the fact that we want to grow a fair proportion of hardwood as well as conifers.

Can the Minister state approximately how long it will take to consider the Tree Preservation Order and whether, meanwhile, this felling can be suspended?

I propose to act very quickly in the matter—as I always do—and I do not think much harm will come in the meantime.

Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman ask the Minister of Agriculture to give the necessary orders to the Forestry Commission? One of the objects of the Act that was passed was to provide precisely for this sort of event, and the Minister of Agriculture has powers today to issue the necessary orders to the Forestry Commission. If he were merely to make a request the whole thing could be stopped tomorrow.

The right hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension. It is not the Forestry Commission who are pulling down the trees, but the owner of the land, who is negotiating with the Forestry Corn-mission for the grant of the lease.

Housing (New Towns)


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning if he will instruct the new towns development corporations to record applications made to them for housing accommodation from persons in congested areas in order that their needs may be considered after the claims of priority workers have been met.

Detailed plans for the movement of population from congested areas in London to new and expanded towns are under consideration and will shortly be discussed with the local authorities concerned. These plans will include provision for registering applications from private individuals for housing accommodation.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the policy of the development corporations varies, and that some corporations will accept applications made to them privately and register them, and that some will not do so? Does not My right hon. Friend agree that there ought to be some uniformity about this, and that when private persons do make private applications at least their applications ought to be recorded for future action if the occasion for it arises?