HC Deb 20 May 1968 vol 765 cc187-92


An outline planning permission granted before the commencement of this Act shall not be held to be invalid by reason only that it was granted upon condition that it would cease to have effect if approval of matters not particularised in the application had not been given within a specified time.—[Mr. Graham Page.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Graham Page

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

A decision of the courts recently has thrown into chaos a large number of planning permissions, and this Clause seeks to try to put right the law on this subject. The Clause seeks to validate planning permissions which have been granted upon condition that they would cease to have effect if the details of an outline planning permission had not received approval by the local planning authority before a certain date.

The problem arises out of the case of Kingsbury Investment (Kent) Ltd. v. the Kent County Council, in which the council granted outline planning permission in 1952. The permission had attached to it a condition that it should cease to have effect if approval of the details of the application had not been notified within three years. This type of condition is a little unusual except, I believe, in Kent. Normally, the permission would be granted on condition that the details were submitted to the local planning authority within a certain period, but in this case the condition was that approval must be notified by the council to the applicant on his outline planning permission within three years.

That was granted in 1952, but the time was extended by letter and agreement between the parties over some years, but the council eventually refused to extend the permission beyond September, 1962. The applicant then applied to the court for a declaration that the condition in the permission was invalid, on the grounds that it did not give them time to appeal from that condition. If the permission became invalid at the end of three years because the local planning authority had not approved the details, that could cut off the right of appeal at that moment.

The applicant succeeded in convincing the court that the condition was invalid and the court so held, but the court also held that the permission was inseparable from the condition and that, therefore, the permission itself was invalid. So the unfortunate applicants, having applied to the court for removal of the condition from their permission, had the permission itself removed.

I understand that the Kent County Council, and perhaps others, have used this form of outline planning permission since 1950, on the grounds of a circular from the Ministry advising that this sort of condition could be attached to permissions and outline permissions granted on the basis that it would cease to have effect if the approval of the details were not granted by the local planning authority within a period of years—in this case, three. So there must be thousands of planning permissions issued on this basis which are invalid. Many of them will have been completed, and no one will question their validity now, but there are probably many applicants holding plannning permisisons of this sort who will not have read the Law Reports and will think that they are valid. If they develop, the county council may not serve an enforcement notice, will accept the development, and that will be that, and no one will worry any more.

But the real problem is that, if these planning permissions are invalid, there has been a withdrawal of planning permission by a court decision. It may be that Kent County Council or other county councils will be grateful for the court's action in withdrawing planning permission, in other words, revoking planning permission without compensation. This may be used by local planning authorities as revocation of planning permissions which were thought to be valid without having to pay any compensation. That is a real danger. After all, however unfair it may seem that a public authority should take advantage in that way a public authority is the trustee for all its citizens, and it must act according to the law, and for their best benefit, and if it is for the benefit of all the citizens in its area that a planning permission should be treated as invalid and revoked, it should do so, regardless of what seems unfair to the individual.

If the law is on the side of the public authority, it should not act to the detriment of the majority of its citizens, so it would be quite right for any county council to take advantage of this legal decision to the detriment of individual applicants. This is a stage at which Parliament should step in and put the law right. It may be that it has to be put right in a retrospective fashion, by saying that what the law has now found to be illegal planning permissions should be made legal, but it is surely the right thing to do. It should not be left in this chaotic state.

We cannot leave a number of developers holding planning permissions they think are valid, and then, when they submit details of what they want to do on their outline planning permissions, they are told that the permissions have been revoked, not by the county council, but by decisions of the courts.

This Clause is an effort to put right a mistake in the law which will leave a chaotic situation, unless it is put right.

Mr. MacDermot

The hon. Gentleman has done a service in drawing attention to this decision and the difficulties to which he has referred. I can see that there is force in his argument, that it

Division No. 151.] AYES [11.9 p.m.
Allen, Scholefield Bagier, Cordon A. T. Blackburn, F.
Armstrong, Ernest Barnett, Joel Blenkinsop, Arthur
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Beaney, Alan Boardman, H. (Leigh)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Bidwell, Sydney Boyden, James

would be wrong that developers should lose the benefit of their outline planning permissions merely because of the defect in the condition, but equally, on the other hand, it does not follow from that that they should have the benefit of such permission without the condition. That would be the effect of his new Clause. But it is a complicated and difficult matter and we should all benefit from an opportunity to sleep on it. So, partly for that reason, and partly for others, I beg to move, That the proceedings of this day's Sitting be suspended.

Mr. Rippon

On a point of order—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

I am required to put the Motion that is moved forthwith.

Mr. Rippon

May I put a question afterwards?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I must put the Question to the House. I am bound by the Standing Order.

Question put forthwith, pursuant to Order [12th December] (Sittings of the House): —

The House proceeded to a Division

Mr. Rippon

(seated and covered): On a point of order. In view of what I said at the opening of the debate earlier today, is the House to be afforded no protection whatever by the Chair against the quite arbitrary, dictatorial, bloody-minded way in which Parliament is being treated, with the Government, in handling the business of the House, interfering with the proper processes of our business and holding up a vital discussion on an important Bill when 52 pages of new Clauses and Amendments have been laid before us?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I must inform the right hon. and learned Gentleman that that is not a point of order. The Chair must apply the Standing Orders, which it is doing.

The House divided: Ayes 145, Noes 100.

Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Horner, John Pentland, Norman
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hoy, James Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Buchan, Norman Huckfield, Leslie Price, William (Rugby)
Buchanan, Richard (C'gow, Sp'burn) Hynd, John Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Carmichael, Neil Irvine, Sir Arthur Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow,E.)
Coe, Denis Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Roebuck, Roy
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Rose, Paul
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Kelley, Richard Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Kenyon, Clifford Sheldon, Robert
Dell, Edmund Lawson, George Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Dempsey, James Leadbitter, Ted Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Dewar, Donald Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Skeffington, Arthur
Dickens, James Loughlin, Charles Slater, Joseph
Doig, Peter Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Snow, Julian
Dunnett, Jack MacDermot, Niall Spriggs, Leslie
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Macdonald, A. H. Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Dun woody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Mackenzie, Gregor (Ruthergien) Swingler, Stephen
Eadie, Alex Mackintosh, John P. Taverne, Dick
Ellis, John McNamara, J. Kevin Thornton, Ernest
English, Michael MacPherson, Malcolm Tinn, James
Ennals, David Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Urwin, T. w.
Fernyhough, E. Mapp, Charles Varley, Eric G.
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Marks, Kenneth Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Marquand, David Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Fowler, Gerry Mendelson, J. J. Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Fraser, John (Norwood) Millan, Bruce Wallace, George
Freeson, Reginald Miller, Dr. M. S. Watkins, David (Consett)
Galpern, Sir Myer Milne, Edward (Blyth) Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Garrett, W. E. Molloy, William Whitlock, William
Gourlay, Harry Newens, Stan Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Gregory, Arnold Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby,S.) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Grey, Charles (Durham) Norwood, Christopher Willis, Rt. Hn. George
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Ogden, Eric Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) O'Malley, Brian Winnick, David
Hamling, William Orbach, Maurice Woodburn, Rt Hn A.
Hannan, William Orme, Stanley Woof, Robert
Harper, Joseph Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Yates, Victor
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Haseidine, Norman Paget, R. T. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Henig, Stanley Park, Trevor Mr. Concannon and
Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Parker, John (Dagenham) Mr. Ioan L. Evans
Hooley, Frank Pavitt, Laurence
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Goodhew, Victor Pym, Francis
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Grant, Anthony Quennell, Miss J. M.
Astor, John Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Hall, John (Wycombe) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Ren ton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Bessell, Peter Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Biffen, John Holland, Philip Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Biggs-Davison, John Hordern, Peter Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Boardman, Tom Iremonger, T. L. Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Bossom, Sir Clive Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Russell, Sir Ronald
Brewis, John Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Scott, Nicholas
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col.SirWalter Kaberry, Sir Donald Sharples, Richard
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Kershaw, Anthony Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Kirk, Peter Silvester, Frederick
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Kitson, Timothy Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Burden, F. A. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Speed, Keith
Cary, Sir Robert Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Stainton Keith
Channon, H. P. G. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Taylor,Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Clark, Henry Lubbock, Eric Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow,Cathcart)
Clegg, Walter Maude, Angus Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Cooke, Robert Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Temple John M
Costain, A. P. Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Tilney John
Crouch, David More, Jasper Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Currie, G. B. H. Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Dance, James Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Murton, Oscar Ward, Dame Irene
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Onslow, Cranley Webster, David
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Page, Graham (Crosby) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn, William
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Pardoe, John Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Eden, Sir John Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Wright, Esmond
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Percival, Ian
Emery, Peter Peyton, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Farr, John Pink, R. Bonner Mr. Hector Monroe and
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Pounder, Rafton Mr. Reginald Eyre.
Foster, Sir John Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch