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New Town, Mobberley

Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 28 June 1949

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asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether it is his Department's intention to utilise the proposed new town at Mobberley as a dormitory for Manchester.

No, Sir. I have already made clear in an announcement in Manchester, that a necessary condition of my agreement is that the new community proposed to be established by Manchester Corporation shall be self-contained and independent, with its own industries, and shall not be a mere dormitory for Manchester.

In those circumstances will the Minister say why he has given this area over to Manchester? If it is not to be a dormitory for Manchester, why has he chosen to adopt this method?

Because I thought it was a convenient method to get development in the circumstances, and it is a way of dealing with Manchester's overspill.


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he will state the type and number of industries to be carried on in the proposed new town at Mobberley.

This is a matter which will have to be settled in consultation between Manchester Corporation, the Cheshire County Council and, of course, the industries and Departments concerned.

That answer surely means that the Minister has no assurance either from other individuals or in his own mind that it will be possible to provide industrial occupations for people who are to be dumped into Mobberley?

I have been asked the type and number of industries to be carried on, and I am saying that as Manchester will have to build the town, they will do so in consultation with the other Departments, but as to the type of the town there is no doubt at all.

Is the Minister able to assure the House that he himself is satisfied that it would be possible to provide in Mobberley all the occupations necessary for the people living there, and that the place will not become in reality a dormitory of Manchester?

I give the House the assurance that that is my intention, to do everything I possibly can to carry out that intention.


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning, how many acres of agricultural land will be lost under the proposed new town scheme at Mobberley.

Discussions are already in progress with a view to minimising the loss of agricultural land in the course of this development. The exact area to be developed has not yet been settled.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the land he has in mind is the best agricultural land in Cheshire, and in this difficult time would it not be more economical to add to the existing towns which already have facilities for roads and surfaces?

Every piece of land one goes to take is stated to be the best agriculture land in the area, but one does not exclude the other. The over-spill problem of Manchester is so large that the mere building of one or more towns will not satisfy it, and it will be necessary in addition to carry out a policy of enlarging the number of existing towns in Cheshire.

The right hon. Gentleman said that the exact area could not be given. Could he give us any idea of the amount of agricultural land likely to be involved?

I cannot, because our endeavour at the moment is to minimise agricultural land, and it is for that purpose that discussions are taking place with the Ministry of Agriculture.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that, apart from this question of agricultural land, this is one of the most beautiful villages in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, and that it is absolutely fantastic to go ahead with this project?

I presume the village referred to is Mobberley, and I hope we are going to enhance its beauty.


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether deep borings will be undertaken before the commencement of any building in connection with his Department's new town scheme at Mobberley, in view of the fact that as a result of deep borings which were carried out in the adjacent area, it was considered inadvisable to build on that site.

The new town to be developed at Mobberley is to be built by the Manchester City Corporation and not by a Development Corporation under the New Towns Act. I shall, of course, satisfy myself in conjunction with the Corporation whether the proposed site when it is provisionally settled is suitable for development: and if I am advised that additional deep borings are necessary they will be carried out.

When the right hon. Gentleman refers to additional deep borings being necessary, is it not a fact that the deep borings, which have taken place on the immediately adjacent land, have shown thick layers of rock salt; and is it not quite monstrous to risk public money on a new town in this area without taking deep borings?

I quite agree, and we are endeavouring to avoid the areas where there is likely to be salt.

Would the Minister tell the House why in the case of Mobberley he allows the Manchester Corporation to build it instead of the New Towns Corporation?

Because I thought that Manchester were a responsible authority, who had themselves already built one town at Wythenshawe, and they were anxious to build themselves. I thought they were capable of doing it.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say quite definitely that he will see that deep borings are made, as he himself considers they were necessary in the adjacent area?

I will certainly see that before this town is actually embarked upon that it is certain that there is no salt.


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning for what reasons he has rejected the proposals in the plan for Cheshire of the Cheshire Advisory Planning Committee to build up existing small towns, instead of developing new towns to take the overspill of population from Manchester.

The hon. and learned Member is misinformed. I have never said that I intended to reject the proposals in the Cheshire Advisory Plan; I hope to give the county council in the near future a statement of my views on some of the main features of the plan.

Is it not a fact that the county council's plan did not include a new town at Mobberley, and, therefore, in so far as the right hon. Gentleman is supporting the idea of the development of Mobberley, he is in effect rejecting the proposals of the county council?

Not at all. The county council's plan provides for the enlargement of a number of existing towns, but that by itself will not be sufficient to meet the Manchester problem. I am not rejecting the enlargement of existing towns, but in addition there will have to be one or more new towns.

Does the Minister not consider that, instead of using up agricultural land for new towns, about which he himself is doubtful, it would be better to use the building material and other facilities to develop the agricultural land of the country and so help in the present economic position?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Manchester civic leaders of all parties believe that only by pressing on with a project such as Mobberley and similar projects can the urgent housing needs of a large number of people in Manchester be met?

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Cheshire County Council proposals included the taking of an over-spill from Manchester up to 300,000, and that this project for Mobberley will only give accommodation for a few thousand? Is it, therefore, worth proceeding with the scheme?

I think so, because, in fact, the Cheshire County Council proposals cannot accommodate the whole of the over-spill.