HC Deb 30 April 1963 vol 676 cc903-6

3.34 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel J. K. Cordeaux (Nottingham, Central)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision as to the determination of applications for planning permission under the Town and Country Planning Act 1962.

My proposed Bill is designed to safeguard the amenities of householders, particularly those who live in the poorer residential areas of our large towns and cities. At present, I believe that they are not sufficiently safeguarded. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I know how difficult it is to listen, but we all hope that someone will listen to us sometimes. I hope that we can be a little more quiet.

Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I was saying, I do not think that the interests of these people are fully safeguarded when new industries are being set up in the vicinity of their houses and when existing uses of business premises are being varied.

As things are, planning permission is required whenever any new industry is set up, or when the existing use of some business premises is altered. It has often been suggested that it should be mandatory on all local authorities to inform all those people affected so that they can make their objections before planning permission is actually granted. But, I think understandably, this suggestion has always been turned down because it is quite impossible to decide in almost every case just how many will be affected.

It is also said, of course, that planning committees are such busy people that it would really make their task impossible if any such regulations were brought in. I would be the first to subscribe to the fact that planning committees are generally very over-worked and also suffer considerably from professional objectors. By that, I mean people who automatically object to any building being erected, or to any existing building being altered, which is in view from their own houses, and who maintain that the view and prospect they have enjoyed since buying the house must remain inviolate for ever. My Bill is not designed to further their activities or to increase the work of the committees. It may well make the work of such committees lighter.

At present, whenever an application comes before a planning committee there may or may not be on that committee an elected member of the ward or electoral area in which planning permission is being sought. For instance, in a town of about 300,000 inhabitants there would very likely be 16 wards, with, say, 65 members of the council, one-quarter of them aldermen. This means that there would probably be about 12 members of the planning committee, perhaps five of them aldermen. The chances in such cases would, therefore, probably be against there being such an elected member of the ward concerned on the committee.

My Bill therefore seeks to provide that, in every case where there is not an elected member of the ward or other electoral area concerned on the planning committee, such member is to be appointed to the committee or co-opted on to it for the consideration of the particular planning case concerned. This will ensure that the committee will include in every case someone who is directly responsible for the interests of the people most likely to be affected.

The present position is that frequently, particularly in the poorer quarters of towns, the people most concerned know absolutely nothing about the institution of some new business premises until after planning permission has been granted—when it is too late—and, indeed, often not until the business concerned is operating. I would quote three cases that occurred not long ago in my constituency.

The first concerned a small furniture factory in a densely inhabited residential area of the poorer sort and which caused no nuisance to anyone. It was bought up by a cattle transporting business with the result that now the unfortunate inhabitants have to suffer the constant noise day and night, weekends included, of heavy cattle transporters which can only move along the very narrow streets nearby by going over the pavements and tearing them up in order to be able to enter the business premises concerned.

Worse still, the inhabitants have to suffer the stench of these transporters being washed out in close proximity to their houses, and, initially, contaminated water was running down the streets and entering the houses.

The second example was also in a densely inhabited poorer area, where a garage which had been open only during the day and was causing no nuisance was taken over by a firm making meat pies, other made-up meat dishes and cream buns. Now the inhabitants suffer constant noise, from the early hours onwards, of the delivery vans, and also, from 5.30 a.m., the overpowering smell of cream buns. People who have not experienced that smell may believe that it should not be particularly unpleasant, but I suggest that anyone who experiences it at that hour of the morning would lose his appetite for breakfast.

The final case which I should like to quote concerns a somewhat better class residential district where the backs of houses in a pleasantly secluded little street looked out upon a nice green open space which was used by an industrial firm for recreational purposes, but which was taken over by a large baking firm and used for the building of a very large bakery, abutting on to the back gardens of these houses.

The area concerned was scheduled for residential purposes and for light industry. I understand that a bakery is classed as light industry, but for those who live near them bakeries can be sheer hell. The people in those houses are now suffering from the constant noise of the vehicles, the delivery vans, which start revving up and loading in the very small hours of the morning. The noise is backed up by such other "restful" noises as the dropping of metal trays on concrete floors and the whistling and singing of the workers employed there. The bakery is brilliantly lit up and it is impossible for people in the back bedrooms of the houses to sleep at nights without having their curtains drawn the whole time.

Inflictions of the sort which I have just quoted are seldom suffered by people living in the richer residential areas. Such areas are generally scheduled for residential purposes only and, moreover, people living in them are, generally, well capable of looking after their own interests. I believe that this question is very much a case of one law for the rich and another for the poor.

Of course, I know that in theory every member of a planning committee is supposed to consider the interests of his city or town as a whole and the interests and amenities of every interest and person affected. But when something is everybody's business, it often soon becomes nobody's business. My Bill would provide that in every case there would be someone on the planning committee whose direct business it was to look after the interests of the householders most concerned, someone whom the householders could afterwards "kick in the pants" if he did not look after their interests properly before the planning committee.

I know that there are many snags in a Bill of this sort. Obviously, it would be more difficult to operate in rural than in urban areas. One also knows that in many cases the interests of people in more than one ward or electoral area would be concerned—one has only to remember that most ward boundaries run down the centre of a street to realise that. In the same way, if the electoral balance between the political parties on a local authority is fairly even, the addition of one extra member to a planning committee might upset that balance and it might be necessary to appoint yet another person to the committee.

However, I submit that these, and no doubt many other snags, are Committee points and I hope that hon. Members will agree that the Bill would go some way towards safeguarding the interests of those people who live in the poorer quarters of our large industrial towns and who are least able to look after themselves. I therefore hope that the House will give me leave to introduce the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux, Mr. Graham Page, Mr. Robert Jenkins, Mr. Mapp, Mr. Jennings, Mr. Gurden, Mr. Edwin Taylor. Mr. Pott, Mr. A. Evans, and Lady Gammans.

  1. TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (No. 2) 44 words