HC Deb 21 March 1961 vol 637 cc182-3
10. Mr. Corfield

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what action he proposes to take to amend Section 31 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1959, in the light of the decision in Buxton v. Minister of Housing and Local Government.

Mr. Brooke

The law provides that the planning applicant and the planning authority, as well as anyone else with rights under Section 37 arising out of ownership of the land, can make application to the High Court to have a decision of the Minister quashed on certain grounds. I do not think there is a case for empowering other people to apply to the court, if none of those thinks fit to do so. A grant of planning permission does not, of course, impair the rights of adjoining owners at common law.

Mr. Corfield

Does not my right hon. Friend appreciate that, unless this Section is amended so as to widen the meaning of the term "person aggrieved", persons appearing at public inquiries, no matter how much their interests may be affected, will continue to have no safeguard against procedural error or abuse of the power conferred by Parliament, unless it so happens that they have legal interests in the land, which may not be the case? Does not he agree that such a situation very largely defeats the object of a public inquiry, as opposed to a hearing between two parties to an application, since the public inquiry is an invitation to such persons to make their representations?

Mr. Brooke

If there has been an error, one would prima facie think that either the applicant, or the planning authority, or someone with a legal interest in the land, would wish to call attention to it. One must consider these matters in practical terms. If my hon. Friend's suggestion were adopted, and he needed planning permission to build a house somewhere, almost anybody could hold him up for months by saying that he was aggrieved because he did not like the proposed house, and that person could start a legal action on a technicality. That is the difficulty.

Mr. M. Stewart

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider whether arrangements could be made whereby people who are interested, as distinct from being legally aggrieved, by the grant of planning permission, are fully informed when applications for planning permission are made?

Mr. Brooke

This is a matter to which I have been giving a good deal of consideration. I do not think that it would be sensible to require planning authorities to advertise all the planning applications that are made, for they run into something like 500,000 a year. But I am anxious that the local authorities should bring to the notice of local people who may be interested any proposals of a major character, and I have it in mind to circularise local authorities on those lines.