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Unused And Vacant Land

Volume 981: debated on Wednesday 26 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the local authorities which will be required to publish registers of unused or vacant land.

I am hoping soon to finalise consideration of this matter after informal consultation with certain authorities which I am now conducting. I shall then make an announcement.

Will my right hon. Friend set a time limit for the publication of a preliminary survey on waste and vacant land in each local authority area? Does he not agree that such a survey would give information to local people and allow them to apply pressure in order to bring land on to the market?

I do not think that there will be any need for that. It is totally within the powers of each local authority to do it now. However, I intend to publish areas which, if Parliament approves the Local Government, Planning and Land (No. 2) Bill, will have registers of public sector land so that we can, on an experimental basis, find out the potential for bringing that land forward for development and more productive use.

In the pursuit of open government, should not all local authorities be required to publish registers of vacant and underused land?

Perhaps the House will feel that it is right to go to that stage after we have had an experimental period of the sort to which I referred. However, I stress—and this is the heart of the matter—that it is totally within the power of local authorities to make such decisions and publish the registers now.