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New Towns Commission

Volume 929: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is now able to make a statement on the future of the Commission for the New Towns.

Following the transfer to local authorities of rented housing the Commission for the New Towns will not have a housing rĂ´ole. It will, however, have a vital part to play in securing the orderly wind-up of development corporations and in the management of the very substantial commercial and industrial assets which have been created in our new towns by Exchequer funding. But the natural aspirations of local authorities to own and manage public sector property provided under the New Towns Act in their areas must be taken into account. I propose, therefore, in consultation with the interested parties, to consider how and on what terms other community related property, for example, parks, woodlands and open spaces, may be transferred from the Commission, and indeed from development corporations in the period after housing transfer to the relevant local authorities. I will also consider whether a local authority should be able, in due course, to acquire commercial and industrial property from the Commission for the New Towns if it wished to do so and had the resources.My policy is to strike a balance between the need to ensure that the major commercial and industrial assets are managed in the national interest and a recognition of the right of the local community to influence its own development.