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House Building (Brent)

Volume 100: debated on Wednesday 25 June 1986

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the number of house building starts, both private and public, in the London borough of Brent during 1985; and if he will make a statement.

The London borough of Brent reported 455 starts during 1985, the highest number since 1977. Of these, 188 were private sector and 267 public sector.

Is the Minister seized of the depth of the crisis in Brent, where only six local authority houses were built last year and where 18,000 people are on the waiting list? Is he aware that there are 650 homeless families? Does he realise that at least 4,916 families are on the high priority transfer list from high rise blocks? Every Saturday morning I am torn to pieces by the family and human tragedies of people who cannot face the problem of not having a roof over their heads.

I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman heard my reply. Starts last year were the highest since 1977. There were 455 starts in 1985, as against 111 in 1979.

The hon. Gentleman was right to say that there are some 600 families living in unattractive circumstances in bed-and-breakfast accommodation, but there are 825 empty dwellings in Brent's ownership, of which 319 have been vacant for more than one year and 180 for more than two years. Brent should bring those properties back into use.

Is there any arrangement whereby some of those seeking homes could move into the 1,500 houses that have been vacant in Southwark for more than a year?

Brent is entitled to nominate people, through the London area mobility scheme. Last year it had a quota of 568 lettings, but took only 263 of them. There is an opportunity for Brent to attack its housing problem by making fuller use of London's mobility scheme.