The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1979-1983 Parliament

Mr Major’s Written Question on Town Development – 14 December 1979

Below is the text of Mr Major’s Parliamentary written question on Town Development, published on 14th December 1979.

Mr. Major Asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement on the Government’s policy towards town development schemes for expanding towns in partnership with the Greater London Council.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg We have been considering the future of expanding towns in the light of comments received and discussions held following the publication of the previous Government’s consultation document* and our own regional, industrial and inner cities policies.

Expanding towns played an important part in alleviating the problems of overpopulation and congestion in major conurbations and complemented the new towns programme. The majority of expanding town schemes still in operation were intended to take their incoming population and industry from London. In recent years, changed population forecasts, changing demands and the importance of revitalising London’s docklands and other inner city areas inevitably point to the reversal of emphasis to which the Government are now firmly committed. Resources, which are going to be severely limited over the next few years, will now be concentrated in areas of greatest need.

In view of the changed situation In London the Greater London Council has entered into discussions with receiving authorities with a view to bringing outstanding expanding town schemes to an end. The Government agree that such schemes should be terminated as quickly as practicable and have decided to support the Greater London Council’s efforts to achieve this objective.

Under the terms of the Town Development Act 1952 particular schemes depend upon bilateral agreements between the GLC and the importing authorities and it is not open to us to decide upon revised arrangements or the details of any termination; negotiations are the responsibility of the local authorities concerned. However, central Government have a part to play in establishing a framework for termination and we are concerned that the terms agreed with the GLC take proper account of the needs of the expanding towns. Many have commitments and have incurred expenditure on central area redevelopment, industrial development and the provision of infrastructure in the expectation that the dwellings target under their town development agreement would be reached.

The Government support the transitional arrangements outlined in the previous Administration’s consultation document, with one exception, and the broad categories set out in that document. The majority of towns will fall into category (ii), that is, those which could accept premature termination of their scheme provided certain assurances are given on transitional arrangements – but, there will be further discussions with individual authorities before this is finalised.