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Housing Action Areas

Volume 885: debated on Monday 27 January 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales what advice he intends to give to Welsh local authorities about the implementation of those provisions of the Housing Act 1974 relating to housing action areas.

Two major circulars will be issued this week on housing action areas, following a comprehensive circular on renewal strategies issued last week.

I know that my hon. Friend, personally, has worked very hard on this issue. It is relevant to Wales, because of the large proportion of unfit houses in Wales. Will my hon. Friend now say what steps he has taken, apart from the circulars, to publicise what is available to local authorities? Will he give an assurance to local authorities that the cash will be available?

Yes, I can give an assurance that the maximum publicity will be used to ensure that not only local authorities but individuals appreciate the rate of grants that will be available under the new Act and the concept behind the housing action area circulars.

I am pleased to report to the House that the first housing action area ever to be declared in England and Wales was at Blaenau/Gwent, in Wales. Finance will be available to assist local authorities in their task of renewing and saving the maximum number of our older homes.

Will the Minister confirm that in the circular that we shall see later this week there will be evidence for the local authorities that they can apply housing action areas in rural areas where the needs are very great? Does he agree that the needs in such areas are often as great in degree, although not in number, as the needs in urban areas?

Yes, certainly. The housing action area circular—I refer to the main one which is coming out this week—is issued by the Welsh Office and has been written with the special needs of Wales in mind. The hon. Gentleman will find paragraphs in the circular which refer directly to the needs of rural communities and the application of the Housing Act 1974.

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that people of Pillgwenlly, Newport have been fighting for over 10 years to keep their homes, along the lines of the policy now being advocated by the Welsh Office? Meanwhile, many hundreds of homes have been bricked up. That is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life in the neighbourhood. Will my hon. Friend ask the local authorities to consider the whole issue of bricking up houses and to consider how many can be refurbished and opened up?

I sympathise greatly with my hon. Friend. It is because of the experience of a number of local authorities in slum clearance, clearance areas and the application of comprehensive clearance area policies that the new advice which we now offer to local authorities has come into being. My hon. Friend will find that the new circular will answer many of the points he has raised.