HC Deb 14 April 1965 vol 710 cc1595-9
Mr. Jay

I beg to move, in page 11, line 31, at the end to insert: (6) In relation to any enforcement notice to which this section applies, the grounds on which an appeal may be brought under section 46 of the Act of 1962 shall not include those specified in paragraph (a) to (c) of subsection (1) of that section, but shall include the grounds specified in the Schedule (Special grounds of appeal against the enforcement notices under section 9) to this Act; and the grounds specified in that Schedule shall be deemed to be included among those mentioned in section 177 (1) of that Act (which relates to the validity of enforcement notices). Perhaps I may also refer to the new Schedule—"Special Grounds of Appeal against Enforcement Notices under Section 9". This Amendment and the new Schedule relate to the right of appeal against an enforcement notice which is provided for under Clause 9. That Clause provides that an enforcement notice relating to new office building in Greater London, served on the grounds that the planning permission had been put into suspense by virtue of Clause 3 (5), may require that building operations should be discontinued forthwith, instead of or in addition to any other step which may require to be taken.

The right of appeal against any enforcement notice to which this Clause applies is preserved by subsection (5) and this allows an appeal within the period specified in that notice, which must be not less than 28 days from the time when the notice is served.

This Amendment and the proposed new Schedule seek to provide special grounds of appeal against a Clause 9 enforcement notice of this kind, and the reason is that some of the grounds of appeal provided for in Section 46 (1) of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1962, are not appropriate in this context. The new Schedule sets out the special grounds of appeal which, in our view, are appropriate in the case of Clause 9 enforcement notices. These are set out—I will not read them—in paragraphs 1 to 5 of the new Schedule.

It seemed to us right to make perfectly clear and beyond doubt what the grounds of appeal may be in the case of an enforcement notice of this kind, and I hope that the House will accept the Amendment and the new Schedule.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The new Schedule will be moved at its appropriate place.

Mr. Graham Page

I must say that I am highly suspicious of this Amendment. The President of the Board of Trade explained it in such a plausible way that one thought there could be no harm at all in it, but one must remember that the only way of appealing against an office development permit decision is by way of inviting an enforcement notice. This is the only way by which one can question whether or not the Board of Trade is right in law—whether or not it is right on the facts—and this is an unfortunate position under the whole Bill. If we had had a straightforward form of appeal it would have been much better, because the applicant now has to commit an illegal act in order to tempt a local authority to serve him with an enforcement notice, and then to appeal against that enforcement notice.

I am highly suspicious when he is deprived of any of his rights of appeal on an enforcement notice. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government had set out the appropriate grounds of appeal in the new Schedule, but at the same time he said that the owner has been deprived of his rights of appeal under Section 46 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1962. Looking at Section 46, I see that there are about seven grounds of appeal, some of which seem very appropriate to the need for allowing the owner to question the decision on an office development permit. For example, subsection 1(d) says: …that what is assumed in the enforcement notice to be development did not constitute or involve development. Is the owner to be deprived of putting forward that ground of appeal, when he has gone ahead with his development on the basis that it is not a development, but when the local authority says that it is and the Board of Trade says that it is? Under those circumstances he says, "I must test the decision by inviting an enforcement notice and I must put forward this appeal." The other grounds of appeal under this Section are

  1. "(a) that planning permission ought to be granted for the development to which the enforcement notice relates;
  2. (b) that planning permission has been granted for that development:
  3. (c) that no planning permission was required…"
and so on. These seem to me to be very relevant, but in their place we are given specific and narrow grounds in the Schedule.

If I understood the right hon. Gentleman correctly, these grounds in the Section and the Schedule apply only to cases in Greater London. I do not know whether they will come into operation at all if an order is made extending the Bill to another part of the country, but I do not think so. We are dealing only with what may happen when this Bill comes into effect, and dealing with the retrospective nature of the Bill.

Even so, I cannot really see the need for restricting the owner's right of appeal. The fact that the owner has this possibility of questioning the decision of the Beard of Trade has been my sort of sheet anchor in this Bill. It is an inefficient way of doing it, but at least he can do it by inviting an enforcement notice and appealing against it. I think we ought to have a greater assurance that nothing is really being taken away from the owner by this Schedule, in regard to the right that he has to appeal against the enforcement notice.

Mr. Jay

By leave of the House, and in order to help the hon. Gentleman, I am very glad to say a further word. He is quite within his rights, if I may say so, in seeking to preserve the proper entitlement of an applicant in this case to appeal. I think that the situation, however, is more satisfactory than the hon. Gentleman supposes.

1.15 a.m.

It is true, as he said, that these Amendments rule out certain grounds of appeal which existed under Section 46(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1962, but only three such grounds. These are, first, that planning permission ought to be granted for the development to which the enforcement notice relates; secondly, that planning permission has been granted for that development; and, thirdly, that no planning permission was required in respect of that development or that the conditions or limitations in respect of which planning permission for that development was granted have been complied with.

These grounds are not really relevant in the case of an enforcement notice under Clause 9, which is served on the ground that planning permission has been granted but has been put into suspense by Clause 3(5). If the hon. Member reflects on the fact that what the Bill is doing in such cases is to put these planning permissions into suspense, he will see that these grounds of appeal, which are the only ones ruled out, would not really be relevant or appropriate in these cases.

We are not taking away any right or ground of appeal but are merely altering them in such a way that they will be more appropriate and fully relevant to cases which could arise under Clause 9.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. MacColl

I beg to move, in page 11, line 45, at end to insert: (8) Where an enforcement notice to which this section applies has been served, and either of the following events occurs, that is to say—

  1. (a) an office development permit is issued in respect of the development to which the notice relates, or
  2. (b) planning permission for any development of the land to which the notice relates 1599 is granted authorising (either unconditionally or subject to conditions) the operations to which the notice relates to be continued,
the enforcement notice shall not have effect in so far as it would prevent or restrict the doing of anything after that event occurs. This Amendment deals with another problem arising from Clause 9, where an enforcement notice has been served and an order has been made to stop the operation forthwith. The problem then arises as to how one gets it started again if that should be necessary. It may be that often development permission may be given either for the whole of the operation or for a modified form or that planning permission may be given for some other use of the land.

In order to make it clear that there is not a clash between planning permission and the O.B.D. and the "stop" order which is in existence, this Amendment provides a means of ensuring that it should no longer have effect in so far as it is necessary for the carrying out of the permit or planning permission.

Mr. Graham Page

This is an admirable Amendment. I think it was necessary and we are very grateful for it.

Amendment agreed to.