HC Deb 20 December 1961 vol 651 cc1347-9
27. Mr. Hannan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that where theatres are demolished there is no effective planning control within existing legislation to prevent change of use on the cleared site; and if he will introduce legislation giving further statutory powers to local authorities to control such developments.

Mr. Maclay

Planning permission must be obtained for any material change in the use of land, whether or not there are buildings standing on it. Although land which has been in use as the site of a theatre can be used for certain kindred purposes without further permission for the change of use, the plans of any new building involved would have to be approved.

Mr. Hannan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the local authorities do not understand the position to be as he has outlined it? Is he aware of the diminishing number of theatres in Scotland, particularly in Glasgow, which is causing concern to theatre lovers, to amateur dramatic societies and operatic societies? If the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared himself to introduce such legislation, will he make facilities available to those of use who wish to pursue the matter?

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Member has leapt a large number of stiles in the course of a short supplementary question and I should like to study carefully what he has said. But I think that I have given the answer to the Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the proposed reconstruction of a very important site in Union Street, Aberdeen, which is now the site of the music hall? Will he see that the planning authority in Aberdeen has ample power to consider not only the utilities but also the aesthetics of this very important site?

Mr. Maclay

Until a short time ago I was not aware of the project to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred. But I think that the planning authority probably knows full well what powers it has.

Mr. Driberg

What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by "certain kindred purposes"? Is he aware that some theatres are now used as warehouses in England—and, I suppose, in Scotland also? Is he aware that when a London theatre is demolished the L.C.C. usually insists that a new theatre shall be incorporated in any block of offices or whatever is to be built on the site? Could not the same example be followed in Scotland?

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Member has asked what are "certain kindred purposes". These are defined in an Order made in 1950 which specified certain uses to be regarded as kindred to a theatre, including cinemas, music-halls, dance-halls, skating rinks, swimming baths, Turkish or other vapour or foam baths, gymnasia or buildings for indoor games.