§ 25. Mr. M. Stewart
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs why in January, 1961, his Department gave authority to the North Riding County Council to grant planning permission to Westfield Estates Ltd. to develop at Ormesby Bank land not allocated for development in the town map.
The North Riding County Council sought authority to grant planning permission in this case on the grounds that this small extension of the residential area would not prejudice the general planning of the area or be injurious to amenity. My predecessor required the county council to advertise the application and to forward to him all objections received. There was one objection. Following a site inspection by an officer of the Department, no reason was seen to withhold authority.
§ Mr. Stewart
Is it not remarkable that this exceptional permission was granted to a company whose chief director is chairman of the North Riding County Council and was formerly chairman of its Planning Committee? Did not the Minister's predecessor refuse other applications for land not allocated in the development map from other applicants, asserting at the time that sufficient land for development had already been allocated in the town map?
I think that is quite an unworthy insinuation. [HON. MEMBERS: "What?"] By mentioning the fact that the chairman was a director of the company concerned there is contained an insinuation. That fact was plainly stated to the council. It was known to my right hon. Friend the then Minister of Housing and Local Government. There has been no concealment of any kind. This application has been dealt with on the usual lines without any exceptions being made to general practice.
§ Mr. Bourne-Arton
Is my right hon. Friend aware that I was a member of the council and of the planning committee at the time in question, though I took not part in these proceedings? Is he further aware that while the present chairman of the county council was never chairman of the planning committee and is not a friend of mine, and indeed is a political opponent and has been my opponent in many local battles, nevertheless during the twelve years I have worked with him and against him on the county council I have detected not the slightest impropriety in any of his public conduct?
§ Mr. Stewart
Is the Minister aware that this is one example of the remarkably good fortune that has attended planning applications by this company? Is he aware that, although he has said that nothing has been concealed about it, nothing could be concealed? The fact was perfectly well known. It is quite wrong to say that I have made an insinuation. I am stating this plainly as a fact. The permission given was unquestionably exceptional. It was not land under allocation. The previous Minister had often refused applications for land not so allocated and had simply said that sufficient land had been already allocated. I ask again, why the exception?
The hon. Member repeats the charge, in the hope no doubt that some of the mud will stick. This application was entirely above board and was dealt with in the normal way.