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Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to require all new homes to be built equipped with (a) fire alarms and (b) sprinkler systems. 
Dr. Whitehead: When the fire safety aspects of the Building Regulations in Approved Document B were amended in 1992, provision was included for mains wired, interconnected smoke alarms to be provided in all new dwellings, resulting in new homes being provided with smoke alarms since 1992.
Although there are currently no plans to revise the Building Regulations to include provisions for domestic sprinkler systems, we are keeping this under review in the light of emerging standards, and improvements in sprinkler technology. We have recently let two research contracts to look at the whole issue of residential and domestic sprinklers, including an assessment of their actual effectiveness and the undertaking of a Regulatory Impact Assessment to consider their costs and benefits. The results and conclusions of this work should be available around the end of 2003.
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We will need to await the findings of the research work referred to above, before we are in a position to consider more fully if the provision of residential sprinklers should be a requirement of the Building Regulations.
Ms Keeble: There is no intention currently to require all new homes to be built as homes for life in the sense of 'Lifetime Homes', as promoted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The need for more accessible homes is met by the general provisions of Building Regulations plus an assessment of specific local needs by each local authority.
Since October 1999, Building Regulations have required key provisions to be made in all new homes which will enable disabled people to visit family and friends in their homes and enable occupants to cope better with reducing mobility and to 'stay-put' longer in their own homes. These provisions do not necessarily facilitate fully independent living for all disabled people as individual needs will vary considerably from case to case.
In addition to the general provisions of Building Regulations, local authorities are required to collect information on their existing housing stock (both public and private sector) to inform their housing investment programme. Local house condition surveys are the best way of achieving this and the Department publishes good practice guidance 'Collecting, Managing and Using Housing Stock Information' DTLR 2000 to assist local authorities in undertaking such surveys. The content of surveys varies from survey to survey, depending upon the requirements for which it is being commissioned. Where information in relation to wheelchair access is required this can be specified as one of the aims of the survey.
Planning policy guidance for housing (PPG3) requires local planning authorities to plan to meet the housing requirements of the whole community, including those in need of special needs housing. PPG3 stresses that a community's need for a mix of housing types is a material planning consideration which should be taken into account in formulating development plan policies and in deciding planning applications involving housing. The Department supports this through good practice guidance. "Better Places to Live", published in conjunction with the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, highlights the advantages of homes designed to adapt to the changing requirements of residents, particularly in terms of providing for reduced personal mobility.
The Housing Corporation's Scheme Development Standards for all new build homes funded with Social Housing Grant already adopt the 'Lifetime Homes' criteria for both the external and internal environment in respect of user groups and visitors with limited mobility.
Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what proportion of housing development has been undertaken on brownfield land since the Government adopted the 60 per cent. target. 
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Ms Keeble: The national target is that by 2008, 60 per cent. of additional housing should be provided on previously developed land and through conversions of existing buildings. The latest information available from the Department's Land Use Change Statistics is that between 1998 and 2000, about 57 per cent. of new dwellings were built on previously developed land (including new dwellings provided from the conversion of existing buildings, which account for 3 percentage points). These statistics are unlikely to reflect yet the effect of our planning policy for housing set out in PPG3 because of the time lag between granting planning permissions, completing dwellings and recording changes in the field.
Dr. Whitehead: Leicester City Council have proposed a Leader and Cabinet constitution, and hence have no plans for a referendum on the election of a Mayor. As we have made clear to the Council, during the two-month period beginning on 13 September when they sent their proposals to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, we will be considering whether or not their circumstances include those where we may direct a referendum.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will introduce a moratorium on the erection of overhead powerlines (a) in general and (b) near houses in rural areas. 
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment his Department has carried out of public opinion on (a) the building of a new motorway between the M25 and Chelmsford and (b) upgrading the A12 to a three lane route into East Anglia. 
Mr. Jamieson: The London to Ipswich Multi-Modal Study is currently underway and is looking at the ways in which all modes of transport can help to solve the existing transport problems in the corridor between London and Ipswich. As part of the study, there will be public consultation on options in the spring of 2002 following which a preferred option will be recommended which will take into account the results of the public consultation as well as the results of other analyses.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the recommendation by its advisory body regarding proposals for a new motorway from the M25 to Chelmsford. 
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transport problems in the corridor between London and Ipswich. As the study is not programmed to finish until July 2002 no recommendations from the study have yet been received by the Secretary of State.
Mr. Win Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent estimate he has made of the value of domestic sprinkler systems in preventing deaths and injuries arising from domestic fires. 
Dr. Whitehead: None. The issue was last looked at by the Community Fire Safety Task Force in their 1997 report, "Safe as Houses." The Task Force concluded that sprinklers did not represent a solution in the medium term and considered the cost of nation wide installation in all existing domestic dwellings as being prohibitive. Similarly, the Task Force did not see any evidence to suggest the UK public is ready to accept the mandatory installation of sprinklers in their homes. They also felt that any mandatory installation would pose significant enforcement difficulties and could infringe upon the rights of private householders.
However, the Government recognise that domestic sprinklers have a role to play in promoting life safety, particularly for the most vulnerable; the Fire Safety Advisory Board will continue to assess their value in the light of emerging standards, and improvements in sprinkler technology. We have, therefore, recently commissioned research into the benefits of sprinklers in residential properties, including the preparation of a Regulatory Impact Assessment. The results and conclusions from this work should be available in a little over two years from now.
Additionally, the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, which we propose should replace the Housing Fitness Standard, includes guidance in respect of hazards from fire. Although not mandatory for houses of multiple occupation, sprinklers may well be recommended where the risk of fire is high.
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