To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans there are for the future of the Royal William yard and other sites in Plymouth.
After detailed discussion with my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Defence, I am today offering the local authorities the possibility of a new urban development corporation (UDC) in Plymouth. The new UDC would be responsible for regenerating parts of the defence estate which are surplus to the Ministry of Defence's operational requirements, together with nearby vacant or run-down areas.Provided the local authorities respond positively to our proposals and accept the offer of partnership it involves, the UDC's task would be to promote development in its designated area and to help revitalise the local economy. The Secretary of State for Defence and I propose to make available from our budgets £45 million to the new UDC. In addition, the Ministry of Defence will be handing over to the UDC significant amounts of development land surplus to its requirements.The new UDC will take a strategic view of the redevelopment of the area. I will be looking to the UDC to prepare a vision for the future of the area which takes account of the potential for employment, infrastructure, environment and leisure opportunities. The new UDC would need to work closely with its partners in the local council and the private sector to ensure that its objective of regeneration can be met.One of the jewels in its crown will be the Royal William yard, which comprises one of the most important surviving groups of historic maritime buildings in the United Kingdom. With the rationalisation of the Ministry of Defence's operations in Plymouth dockyards, I am confident that the future of the Royal William yard and other sites would be best served by the comprehensive approach to regeneration which the UDC would be able to offer.