15 MARCH 1963, Page 15


SIR,-1 am increasingly puzzled to understand why an analogy is being drawn between the London County Council's St. Helier Estate and the New Towns to support the argument that children of tenants as they grow up and marry should be pro- vided with houses on the estate. Starbuck in 'Spec- taLor-s Notebook' on February 15 followed others on this false trail. I can't believe that he had a look at St. Helier and then at, say, Basildon or Bracknell New Towns.

Of course, it is desirable that there should be genuine continuity of family life in any community, but this is not an argument for creating a closed com- munity within some artificial boundary, The New Towns arc newly created urban islands within the natural boundaries of the surrounding rural area. While the towns are growing up they need to keep the4N second generation to maintain a fair balance of age group in the population, and, just as important,

to provide for the needs of the industry on which the town depends.

St. Helier, and for that matter other LCC estates just outside the county, are not urban islands. They are part of the continuous built-up area of Greater London. There arc about 65,000 dwellings in the area of the three local authorities which the St. Helier estate straddles, only one-seventh of these on the estate itself. If the total housing available in Greater London bore any reasonable relation to the demand, the children of estate tenants would have no diffi- culty in maintaining their family links within this area. As things are they arc in precisely the same position as countless other young people in the metro- polis whose parents live in privately owned accom- modation, and who when they marry can't find a home nearby, It may be a poor state of affairs as Starbuck says, but the LCC did not create the situa- tion and cannot wholly remedy it.

If the children of the estates were put on the Council's housing waiting list they would not be a jot better off. The Council has, as you have noted, a housing list of 47,000. After the Council has pro- vided on its estates for people who must be rehoused from slum clearance areas and from sites for new roads, schools, there have been about 3,000 houses left to he offered each year to those on the waiting list. (It is hoped in 1963 to improve on this figure.) The _Council gives priority to those living in the worst conditions, to overcrowded families, families where children are separated from their parents for lack of a home. While the housing shortage continues the Council's first duty must be to these unfortunate people, whose plight constitutes a social evil more pressing and immediate than the problem of the second generation on the estates.

NORMAN PR ICHARD Chairman, Housing Committee London County Council County Hail, SE1