§ (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Town and Country Planning Acts. 1947 to 1959. and the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Acts. 1947 to 1959, an application made after the commencement of this Act for planning permission for the use of land as a caravan site shall not be entertained by the local planning authority—
- (a) in the case of any agricultural land which is held by the person making the application on a lease or tenancy under which the use of the land for purposes other than agricultural purposes is prohibited; or
- (b) in the case of any agricultural land which is held by the person making the application on a lease or tenancy and in respect of which the local planning authority are satisfied that its use for any purpose other than an agricultural purpose would be contrary to the implied terms of the lease or tenancy.
§ (2) Section thirty-six of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1959 (which relates to publication of notices of application for planning permission), shall be read and have effect as if the use of land as a caravan site 1659 were included among the classes of development to which that section applies and section thirty-seven of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1959 (which relates to notification of applications for planning permission to owners and agricultural tenants), shall in relation to any application for planning permission for the use of land as a caravan site be read and have effect as if after paragraph (b) of subsection (I) thereof there were inserted the following paragraph—
§ "(bb) a certificate stating that the applicant has given the requisite notice of the application to all the persons (other than the applicant) who, at the beginning of the period of twenty-one days ending with the date of the application were owners of land immediately adjoining the land to which the application relates, and setting out the names of those persons, the addresses at which notice of the application was given to them respectively and the date of the service of each such notice".
§ (3) For the purposes of this section the expression "agricultural" has the same meaning as is assigned to it by section one hundred and nineteen of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, and section one hundred and thirteen of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act, 1947.—[Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Sir Colin Thornton-Kemsley (North Angus and Mearns)
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
When application is made fur planning permission and all the procedure has to be gone through, it is a great waste of everybody's time if the application is made in respect of land let on an agricultural tenancy where there is specific provision in the lease that the land shall be let for agricultural purposes only. The first part of the new Clause deals with the case where there is a farm lease which says specifically, binding upon the farmer, that the land shall be used for agricultural purposes only.
The Clause also deals with land which is let for farming purposes, but where, although the lease does not expressly say that the land could be used for farming purposes only, that is an implied condition of the letting. It would be a great waste of time to go through the procedure of applying for planning permission and having it granted and so on for the establishment of a caravan site on such land if it were then found that the land could not be let for that purpose.
The effect of the Clause is to preclude applications for planning permission in 1660 both cases on the ground of the trouble and expense of dealing with planning applications when it is expressly provided, or where it is the intention of the parties to the lease, that the use of the land should be restricted to agricultural purposes.
The second part of the Clause is necessary in view of the provisions of Section 36 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1959. That Act provides for the notification of an application for planning permission to the owners and tenants of agricultural land before an application is made, and a certificate stating that the requirements of that Section have been complied with must accompany the application for planning permission.
The Clause provides for an additional safeguard to cover the case of applications for planning permission in the use of land as caravan sites. It is proposed that it should be a statutory requirement that the owners of the land immediately adjoining the land for which application is made must also be notified of the application. I think this necessary because the owners of adjoining land are obviously very much concerned in land that is to be used as a site for caravans.
I speak as a caravan owner. As I said when we were considering the Second Reading of the Bill, I enjoy mobile caravanning, spending my time in an entirely different way from that in which it is spent here. I enjoy caravanning the countryside, and I have every sympathy with those who want to provide sites for people like myself who enjoy spending a night or two in a caravan at different places on our journeys, or perhaps staying even a little longer.
Nevertheless, I recognise that there are objections to the establishment of caravan sites and that the strongest objections may well be by those people who are owners of adjoining land. The last thing I want is for caravanning to come into disrepute because people are able to get their sites easily, without proper examination and against the wishes of owners of immediately adjoining property. I think that it is only right that when an application is made for planning permission for establishing a caravan site, notification should be given that the adjoining owners have been notified of the 1661 application for planning permission. It is for that reason that the second part of the Clause is added.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
Acceptance of the first part of the proposed Clause would surely constitute a rather important departure in principle from what has been regarded hitherto as desirable in governing these matters. At present there is perfect freedom to anybody to apply for permission to develop land. The right to make that application and to explore the matter does not derive from any interest in the land of a pecuniary character or from title or anything of that kind.
This has certain advantages. It leads to flexibility. It means that the advantages of planning permission can sometimes attach to land when the owner of the interest in the land would not have thought of exploring the matter. It is often of advantage in the case of prospective purchasers of an interest in land. A prospective purchaser may contemplate the development of a piece of land but, before commencing negotiations, he may want to find out what the planning position is or is likely to be. On the whole, it is desirable and makes for good planning and good land administration if he has that opportunity of applying for planning permission to see what befalls. I think that the first part of this Clause would constitute a very undesirable departure in principle.
I feel rather less objection to the second part of it; I doubt whether I have any objection at all. The Clause, for me, however, is vitiated by the first part.
§ Mr. Ross
Like my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine), I have considerable sympathy with the second part of the Clause. I am surprised that the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley) did not take the opportunity in Committee of putting down two new Clauses, one to deal with the first part and one to deal with the second part, and then probably we should have been able to sort out this problem.
I do not see how the Government can accept the first part of the Clause. If they fail to accept the first part, that rules out the second part as well. The hon. Member pleaded with us and told us that he was himself a caravanner. No doubt that was to soften us up and 1662 to demonstrate that he would do nothing against the interests of caravanners or anyone else. The trouble is that I have been in this House for a long time, and so has he, and I have always looked upon him as the authentic voice of the landlord and property owner. I think that he will agree with me that sometimes in that respect my judgment is not far wrong.
Planning authority permission surely is on the rightness or wrongness of something in relation to considerations from the planning point of view. The hon. Member asks the planning authority to go into the relationship between tenant and owner as to what is in a lease and what is not. Moreover, subsection (1, b) states:In the case of any agricultural land which is held by the person making the application on a lease or tenancy and in respect of which the local planning authority are satisfied that its use for any purpose other than an agricultural purpose would be contrary to the implied terms of the lease or tenancyIt states "implied terms". Why should we ask the local planning authority not only to read what is stated in a lease or agreement relating to a tenancy but also to read all sorts of implications into it? The hon. Member's words were, "Not just what it says but implied conditions". That is a matter for a court of law. That is not a matter for the planning authority. I think that the hon. Member was asking too much of us in expecting that we would hand this kind of thing over to local planning authorities when, obviously it is a matter entirely for the courts.
It may well be that, irrespective of what is said in the lease, the owner has said to the tenant, "You can carry on and I shall not object." According to the wording of the new Clause, that would not carry any weight with the local planning authority which, under this Clause, has to examine the actual agreement of the tenancy or lease and would not be concerned with any oral agreement between the tenant and the owner. I think that in every way examaination of paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) of this Clause is such as to lead the House to the judgment that we cannot accept it.
§ Sir James Duncan (South Angus)
I should not have spoken but for the speech of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). 1663 This new Clause is just as likely to benefit the tenant as the landlord because if planning permission were granted for a caravan site, I gather that the rent receivable would be higher than the rent for agricultural use. This Clause is, therefore, just as much in the interest of a tenant who has a farm, and who may lose part of his farm as a caravan site, as it is in the interest of the landlord. The tenant may lose a very valuable part of the farm and it may be reduced to an uneconomic size.
I was not a member of the Standing Committee and I approach the question of planning law with hesitation, but from an agricultural point of view there seems to be a great deal to be said for the new Clause. Agriculture is a long-term business and if we are to have a lease or agreement that a farm is to be let for agricultural purposes it would be a pity if someone were able to break the terms of the lease to set up a caravan site. If it is the wish of the landlord and the tenant that a piece of land should be given up for this purpose, then the lease or agreement can be modified to this end.
I therefore hope that my hon. Friends on the Front Bench, and particularly the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland—because this matter will apply very much in Scotland in the future—will accept at any rate the first part of the new Clause, if not now, then at a later stage. I support the new Clause.
§ Sir K. Joseph
The proceedings of the Bill have been so friendly that I am not particularly embarrassed by leaning to some extent on the arguments of hon. Members opposite in dealing with the first part of the new Clause. As the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) pointed out, this would be a revolutionary procedure in planning law. The planning authorities are bound to consider planning criteria. They are not entitled to look into even the expressed terms of a lease, and if we were to instruct them to look into the implied terms of a lease, I think that we should be carrying the requirements not only much too far legally, but quite impracticably too far.
Both the landlord and the tenant have their own protection in the lease itself. The mere fact that planning permission 1664 has been given, either to the landlord or to the tenant, cannot override the terms of the lease, or the tenancy, and the landlord or tenant who is disgruntled by the behaviour of the other party has his remedy in the lease. I must ask my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Sir C. ThorntonKemsley) to accept that that is so. Planning powers in no way intrude between the landlord and the tenant.
I turn to the other parts of the new Clause. If my hon. Friend had not declared himself a caravanner, I might have thought that he was frightened of caravans, because he is trying to erect a series of extra barriers against caravan sites. He did not speak about that part of his new Clause which would apply Section 36 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1959, to caravans. The House will remember that this is the Section which entitles my right hon. Friend, in any sort of development which he thinks might be regarded as a bad neighbour, to lay down that in such a case there shall be public advertisement of the proposed development.
My right hon. Friend has already listed some of the types of development under the General Development Order. They include such things as public conveniences, sewage disposal works, slaughterhouses, knackers' yards, cinemas and dance halls. I have not given a complete list, but these are the kind of developments in which neighbours are bound to be particularly interested because of the nature of the development.
But it is one thing for my right hon. Friend to include or exclude a particular type of development under the General Development Order, which he can vary by Order, and quite another thing to choose one type of development, namely caravans, and apply statutory sanction to it. That is an inflexible way of behaving, even if caravans deserved to be treated in that way. Moreover, I suggest to my hon. Friend, who is a keen caravanner, that caravans are not as inherently undesirable as neighbours as are such things as slaughterhouses and knackers' yards which, though essential to our civilisation, are naturally likely to arouse a certain apprehension in their immediate neighbourhood. The fact is that although we hear of bad caravan sites, the vast number of 1665 caravans are disposed in suitable places and in very small numbers. I therefore hope that my hon. Friend is satisfied that it would be unreasonable to pick out caravans alone and to apply to them the public notice procedure of Section 36 of the 1959 Act.
My hon. Friend completes his new Clause by requiring that notices under Section 37 of the Town and Country Planning Act, which requires that they shall be given to all those with an interest in the land, should also be given to adjoining owners. Here, too, he is treating caravans in a unique way. This requirement of notice to adjoining owners is not applied to any other sort of development, and I do not think that my hon. Friend has made or that, as a caravanner, he could make a case that caravans need to be treated in this exceptional way.
It is the duty of a local planning authority, with the sanction of local elections behind it, to take account of the local interests before granting permission. I point out to my hon. Friend, quite apart from this aspect, that opening the door to objections from adjoining owners in every planning case involving caravans might swamp the planning machinery. The present state of the law may have led to some bad caravan sites, which are bad neighbours, and that state of the law is what the Bill sets out to cure. I hope that my hon. Friend will agree that the Draconian powers which he wishes to take against caravan sites in this Clause are not justified, and I hope that he will withdraw the Clause.
§ Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley
In view of the explanation which my hon. Friend has given, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.