§ Mr. Graham Page
I beg to move Amendment No. 1097, in page 263, line 25, leave out sub-paragraph (4).
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
With it we shall also take Government Amendments Nos. 1098, 1099, 1100 and 1101.
§ Mr. Page
The first group of four Amendments relates to the requirement for a district planning authority which 780 has prepared a local plan to obtain a certificate that it conforms generally with the county's structure plan. We have had to set out here in some detail the arrangements for obtaining a certificate.
Amendment No. 1097 is merely a paving Amendment. Amendment No. 1098 provides that a district planning authority shall not make a local plan available for inspection until it has obtained a certificate that it conforms generally with the structure plan. I now agree with those with whom I disagreed in Committee. We should not have a question mark hanging over the matter about whether the plan conforms when it is put before the public. I remember arguing in Committee that the district should be allowed to go ahead with its plan and to put it before the public without having a certificate. I now believe that it should obtain a certificate first.
Amendment No. 1100 inserts three new subsections into Section 14 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1971, which deals with the procedure for the adoption and approval of local plans. The new subsection (5) contains a provision requiring a district planning authority to request a certificate of general conformity from the county planning authority and it also introduces some new features. First, it provides for a time limit within which the county shall consider the request and, if satisfied as to conformity, issue a certificate accordingly. The period is to be as short as one month so there is a due sense of urgency. But if the county and the district agree the period could be extended.
The Clause also provides for reference to the Secretary of State when the county is not satisfied that the plan conforms. The reference is limited in its scope, being tied to those respects in which the county is not satisfied as to conformity. I accept that if there is a dispute in which the county and the district cannot come together there should be a means for resolving the matter or there could be a deadlock. Again to avoid delay the county must bring the matter before the Secretary of State for his decision within the time limit given of one month.
The new subsection (6) provides that if a county fails to issue a certificate without referring the matter to the Secretary 781 of State or if the county is unable to come to a decision then the Secretary of State may direct that the question of conformity be directed to him. There then follows a procedure for issuing a certificate where the Secretary of State has become involved. He could either issue a certificate himself, direct the county to do so, or direct a district to change the plan to secure conformity and to apply for a fresh certificate.
Amendment No. 1100 as a whole deals only with the exceptional circumstances. Where the constructive partnership between county and district planning authorities, which I am sure the House hopes will result from this procedure, does not come about, the local authorities can bring the matter before the Secretary of State. I hope that will be exceptional.
I hope that the procedure which we have laid down will bring the two together, and that the issue of a certificate, when it comes to the point of a request from the district, will be a mere formality. There should be co-operation long before that between the two. The county should know perfectly well what the district is doing, so that when the district applies for a certificate it will be a pure formality.
Amendment No. 1101 is purely a drafting Amendment.
§ Mr. Awdry
I have never been very happy about the provisions of the Bill relating to planning functions, but we need not go into that matter again now. Amendment No. 1100 is an improvement, and will be very much welcomed by the County Councils Association, with one reservation about the time factor. Under the Amendment the county planning authorities will have only one month to decide whether the district local plan conforms to the structural plan. In normal cases I imagine that that would be enough, but there will be some cases where detailed discussions are necessary and more time is required. My right hon. Friend the Minister says that the time can be extended by agreement between the districts and the county, but if the districts do not agree to extend the time the counties will be in a difficulty. I agree that the matter should be dealt with with some urgency, but the Association feels that one month is not enough. 782 Therefore, will my right hon. Friend consider extending the period to three months, perhaps at another stage of the consideration of the Bill?
§ Mr. Page
I wanted to give the impression of the urgency of the matter. I believe that long before the request is made the county will be fully aware of the contents of the local plan. If the country has good reason for not giving a certificate within that period, and the district refuses to agree to an extension of time, as a result of which the matter comes before the Secretary of State on an wholly unreasonable refusal by the district to agree to an extension of time, I am sure that the Secretary of State will know how to deal with the matter. I am sure that he would not give countenance to a district which had been wholly unreasonable. We must make it clear that the procedure is one that must be undertaken rapidly so that the examination of the plan by the public is not held up. I do not want the plan lingering on the desk of the county planning officer month after month while the public, who will already know something about its contents, are concerned about its effect on individual properties and upon that area of the town. We must move rapidly to the point of putting the matter before the public when there have obviously been rumours of what the plan contains.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 1098, in page 264, line 4, leave out sub-paragraph (3) and insert—
'(3) For section 12(2) there shall be substituted the following subsection: —
(2) When a local planning authority have prepared a local plan and the Secretary of State has approved the structure plan so far as it applies to the area of that local plan and, in a case where the local planning authority are required to obtain a certificate under section 14 of this Act, they have obtained that certificate, they shall before adopting the local plan or submitting it for approval under that section make copies of it available for inspection at their office and at such other places as may be prescribed and send a copy to the Secretary of State and to the district or county planning authority, as the case may require; and each copy made available for inspection shall be accompanied by a statement of the time within which objections to the local plan may be made to the local planning authority" '.
No. 1099, in page 264, line 9, at beginning insert—
'(1) In section 14(2), after the word "conforms", there shall be inserted the words "and, in the case of a local plan prepared by a district planning authority, a certificate is issued under subsection (5)or (7) of this section that it conforms".
No. 1100, in page 264, line 12, at end insert—
'(3) In section 14, at the end there shall be added the following subsections: —
(5) Where a district planning authority have prepared a local plan for any part of their area the structure plan for which has been approved by the Secretary of State, they shall request the county planning authority to certify that the local plan conforms generally to the structure plan and, subject to subsection (6) below, the county planning authority shall, within the period of one month from their receipt of the request or such longer period as may be agreed between them and the district planning authority, consider the matter and. if satisfied that the local plan does so conform, issue a certificate to the effect; and if it appears to the county planning authority that the local plan does not so conform in any respect, they shall, during or as soon as practicable after the end of that period, refer the question whether it so conforms in that respect to the Secretary of State to be determined by him.
(6) The Secretary of State may in any case by direction to a county planning authority reserve for his own determination the question whether a local plan conforms generally to a structure plan.
(7) Where on determining a question referred to or reserved for him under subsection (5) or (6) of this section the Secretary of State is of opinion that a local plan conforms generally to the relevant structure plan in the relevant respect or, as the case may be, all respects he may issue, or direct the county planning authority to issue, a certificate to that effect, and where he is of the contrary opinion, he may direct the district planning authority to revise the local plan in such respects as he thinks appropriate as as to secure that it will so conform and thereupon those subsections and the preceding provisions of this subsection shall apply to the revised plan"'—[Mr. Graham Page.
§ 'Joint plans
7A.—(1) The following provisions of this paragraph shall have effect where two or more county planning authorities prepare a structure plan jointly.
(2) The county planning authorities shall take such steps as will in their opinion secure—
(a) that persons who may be expected to desire an opportunity of making representations to any of the authorities are made aware that they are entitled to an opportunity of doing so;
(b) that such persons are given an adequate opportunity of making such representations.
(3) Section 8(1)(b) and (c) shall not apply in relation to a joint structure plan and references in section 8 to subsection (1) of that section and the purposes of paragraphs (a) to (c) thereof shall include references respectively to sub-paragraph (2) above and the purposes of paragraphs (a) and (b) thereof.
(4) Each of the county planning authorities by whom a joint structure plan has been prepared shall have the duty imposed by section 8(2) of making copies of the plan available for inspection.
7B.—(1) Where a structure plan has been prepared jointly, the power of making proposals under section 10(1) for the alteration, repeal or replacement of the plan may be exercised as respects their respective areas by any of the authorities by whom it was prepared and the Secretary of State may under that section direct any of them to submit such proposals as respects their respective areas.
(2) In relation to the joint submission of such proposals, the reference in section 10(2) to section 8 shall include a reference to paragraph 7A above.
7C.—(1) The following provisions of this paragraph shall have effect where two or more local planning authorities prepare a local plan jointly.
(2) The local planning authorities shall take steps as will in their opinion secure—
(a) that persons who may be expected to desire an opportunity of making representations to any of the authorities are made aware that they are entitled to an opportunity of doing so; and
(b) that such persons are given an adequate opportunity of making such representations.
(3) Section 12(1)(b) and (c) shall not apply in relation to joint local plans and references in section 12 to subsection (1) of that section and the purposes of paragraphs (a) to (c) thereof shall include references respectively to sub-paragraph (2) above and the purposes of paragraphs (a) and (b) thereof.
(4) Each of the local planning authorities by whom a joint local plan has been prepared shall have the duty imposed by section 12(2) of making copies of the plan available for inspection, and objections to the plan may be made to any of those authorities and the statement required by section 12(2) to accompany copies of the plan made available for inspection shall state that objections may be so made.
7D.—(1) It shall fall to each of the local planning authorities by whom a joint local plan was prepared to adopt the plan under section 14(1) and they may do so as respects any part of their area to which the plan relates, but any modifications subject to which it is adopted must be agreed between all those authorities.
(2) Where a structure plan has been jointly prepared by two or more county planning authorities or a local plan has been jointly prepared by two or more district planning authorities, a request for a certificate under section 14(5) that the local plan conforms generally to the structure plan shall be made by each district planning authority to the county planning authority for the area comprising the district planning authority's area and it shall fall to that county planning authority to deal with the request.
7E.—(1) Where a local plan has been prepared jointly, the power of submitting proposals under section 15(1) for the alteration, repeal or replacement of the plan, may be exercised as respects their respective areas by any of the authorities by whom it was prepared and the Secretary of State may under that subsection direct any of them to submit such proposals as respects their respective areas.
(2) In relation to the joint submission of such proposals the reference in section 15(3) (as it has effect outside Greater London) to section 12 shall include a reference to paragraph 7C above.
7F. The date appointed under section 18(4) for the corning into operation of a local plan prepared jointly by two or more local planning authorities or for the alteration, repeal or replacement of a local plan in pursuance of proposals so prepared shall be one jointly agreed by those authorities and be specified in their respective resolutions adopting the plan.
7G.—(1) Paragraph 7C(3) and (4) above shall not, and the following provisions of this paragraph shall, apply in Greater London.
(2) Notwithstanding anything in paragraph 8(3) of Schedule 4, the Greater London Council may prepare a local plan for the whole or part of a G.L.C. action area (within the meaning of that paragraph) jointly with a London borough council or the Common Council.
(3) Sub-paragraph (1)(b) and (c) of paragraph 12 of that Schedule shall not apply in relation to joint local plans and the reference in sub-paragraph (3) of that paragraph to sub-paragraph (1) of that paragraph, and the reference in paragraph 14(2) to sub-paragraph (1)(a) to (c) of the said paragraph 12, shall both include a reference to paragraph 7C(2) above.
(4) Where the Greater London Council is one of the local planning authorities by whom a joint local plan has been prepared, that Council shall not be required to take any steps under the said sub-paragraph (2) which can in their opinion be taken, and are taken, by the council of any other local planning authority whose area comprises any part of the area to which the plan relates.
(5) Each of the local planning authorities by whom a joint local plan has been pre pared for any part of Greater London shall have the duty imposed by sub-paragraph (2) of the said paragraph 12 of making copies of the plan available for inspection, and objections to the plan may be made to any of those authorities and the statement required by sub-paragraph (3) of that paragraph to
accompany copies of the plan made available for inspection shall state that objections may be so made.
(6) In relation to the joint submission of proposals under section 15(1) for the alteration, repeal or replacement of a local plan the reference in section 15(3) (as it has effect in Greater London) to the said paragraph 12 shall include a reference to paragraph 7C above and the foregoing provisions of this paragraph'.
§ Mr. Page
Amendment No. 1104 is the substantive Amendment, and the others are consequential.
The Amendment makes specific provision for the preparation of joint local plans and joint structure plans. After reorganisation, although local plans become a function of the district planning authorities, county planning authorities will continue to have responsibility for some of these plans. There must therefore be provision for joint working on local plans between district planning authorities in the same county or in adjoining counties and adjoining districts.
The new paragraphs 7A to 7G relate only to those powers and duties in the plan-making procedures where it is not sufficient for the authorities to arrange between themselves who shall take the statutory action, and where it needs to be laid down explicitly either that action must be taken separately by each of the authorities concerned or that it must be taken by all of them acting together.
These procedural stages relate to publicity, to public participation, the making of objections and, for joint local plans, their adoption and operative date.
The several paragraphs show how these duties shall be carried out when the joint plans are being prepared but, more important, they tell the public to whom to make representations. The public should not be inconvenienced by the fact that there are two or more local authorities drawing up a plan and have to make representations to each one, and so these rules laid down in the paragraphs assist the public, in that representations can be made to one of the authorities concerned
The House will not wish me to go through in detail this procedure; it 787 speaks for itself when one reads it through. It makes a logical story of the preparation of the joint plans.
If there are any problems which anybody has noticed on them I shall endeavour to deal with them.
Mr. R. C. Mitchell
Can the Minister explain what effect, if any, the Amendment will have on the South Hampshire structure plan and the type of organisation that exists at the moment?
§ Mr. Page
It will enable the South Hampshire authorities to submit a plan for the whole area for which they have been preparing a structure plan without giving the Secretary of State a pair of scissors and chopping it up and handing in separate plans. That is the physical side, but it goes further into the merits of the plan that that. It enables joint plans to be prepared, exactly as South Hampshire has been doing informally. It gives them statutory blessing.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Graham Page
I beg to move Amendment No. 740, in page 264, line 26, leave out from beginning to end of line 46 on page 265 and insert—
8.—(1) The functions of a local planning authority of determining—
shall, subject to sub-paragraph (2) below, be exercised by the district planning authority.
(2) The functions of a local planning authority of determining any such application as aforesaid which appears to the district planning authority to relate to a county matter shall be exercised by the county planning authority unless the application relates to a county matter mentioned in paragraph 17(1)(d) below and the district planning authority propose—
(3) Every application mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) above shall be made to the district planning authority, and in the case of an application for planning permission that authority shall send a copy of the application as soon as may be after they have received it to the county planning authority and also to the local highway authority, if not a local
planning authority, except in any case or class of case with respect to which the county planning authority or the local highway authority, as the case may be, otherwise direct.
(4) The foregoing provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to applications relating to land in a National Park, but paragraph 8A below shall apply to such applications instead.
8A.—(1) Each of the following applications under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, that is to say—
shall, if relating to land in a National Park, be made to the district planning authority who shall, unless it falls to be determined by them, send it on to the county planning authority and, in the case of an application for planning permission, shall send a copy to the local highway authority, except where the local highway authority are a local planning authority and except in any case or class of case with respect to which the local highway authority otherwise direct.
(2) Where any such application relating to land in a National Park or an application so relating for approval of a matter received under an outline planning permission within the meaning of section 42 falls to be determined by a county planning authority, that authority shall before determining it consult with the district planning authority for the area in which the land to which the application relates is situated.
8B. The Secretary of State shall include in a development order under section 24 provision enabling a local highway authority to impose restrictions on the grant by the local planning authority of planning permission for the following descriptions of development relating to land in the area of the local highway authority, that is to say—
>8C. The provisions which may be contained in any such order shall include provision—
8D. Except in the case of any description of operations or use of land specified in an order made by the Secretary of State, the county planning authority for any area may give directions to the district planning authority for any part of that area as to how the district planning authority are to determine any application under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 in any case where it appears to the county planning authority that any proposals in the application would substantially and adversely affect their interests as local planning authority.
(2) The provisions which may be contained in a development order under section 24 shall include provision requiring—
§ Mr. Page
This Amendment replaces the existing paragraph 8 of Schedule 16 by new paragraphs. Paragraph 8 allocates responsibilities for dealing with applications for planning permission, applications for determining whether planning permission is required for a particular proposal, and applications for established use certificates. It also deals with some aspects of the relationship between planning authorities in respect of such matters.
Hon. and right hon. Members who read paragraph 8 as originally printed were probably as confused as I was. I thought that I had got it right in first approving the draft and then, when I read it again, it seemed almost double Dutch. I think that we have it right now. The new series of paragraphs begins logically with the provisions allocating to district planning authorities the responsibility of dealing with most applications.
We are talking about the ordinary applications for planning permission and the scheme of things in this Schedule is that they should be sent first and foremost to the district. All applications for planning permission will go to the district planning authority and it is for it to sort out those which should be county matters. Those are set out in paragraph 17 of the Schedule as being of three different types relating to minerals—applications for winning and working of mineral deposits, for search and tests for mineral deposits and for disposal of mineral wastes. They are matters reserved to the county. Then the districts should forward them to the county for decision. The districts should also forward to the county any application which is in conflict with the development plans, either with the structure plan or a local plan prepared by the county, unless the district is to deal with it without prejudicing that plan in any way.
Sub-paragraph 8(3) provides machinery for the making of applications and dealing with them. Every application is required to be made to the district planning authority. In the case of applications for planning permission that authority is then required to send a copy of the application both to the county planning authority and to the local highway authority, if it is a 791 different authority except, in either instance, in any case or class of case with respect to which the authority otherwise directs. It is possible for the county planning authority to say it does not want to receive certain types of application. This will be a useful provision. We shall be issuing guidance on this and I am sure there will be a number of types of planning application which the district can deal with at once without sending copies to the county. This is a matter between the county and district based on such advice as we can give them in working out the scheme.
Paragraph 8A contains the provisions for dealing with applications relating to land in a national park, which we have already discussed, which differ from those relating to land elsewhere because all the functions of a local planning authority are vested in the county planning authority. It sets out what shall happen to applications relating to national parks. The term "county planning authority" in relation to the exercise of functions in national parks in practice includes a national parks committee—or it is the national parks committee—because the committee gets all its planning functions from the county of which it is a committee.
Paragraph 8B deals with the interests of local highway authorities and this is where I hope we have made the scheme much more intelligible than it was in the original Bill. It now provides for the Secretary of State to make provision in subordinate legislation enabling a local highway authority to give directions restricting the grant of permission in any case where an application for planning permission relates to development affecting a classified road or proposed new road. That provision about the specific distance of 220 feet, which caused so much concern when the Bill was first printed is now removed from the Clause.
The local highway authority may direct that there be restrictions placed on the grant of permission in any case where development involves either the formation, laying out or alteration of means of access to a classified road or proposed new road or any other operations or use which will in its opinion be likely to result in a material increase in traffic using an access to such a road or to 792 prejudice the improvement of such a road or to result in a material change in the character of traffic entering, leaving of using the road.
Paragraph 8C deals with the relationship between a county planning authority and district planning authority, on which the Secretary of State can make certain orders.
Let me turn to paragraph 8E which, I am sure, the House will deem of some considerable importance if my mail is anything to judge it by. I recollect getting about 400 to 500 letters concerning the desire by parish councils to receive notice of planning applications. We have provided for it here, in paragraph8E—that where a parish council, or, in Wales, a community council, has previously in writing notified the district planning authority that it wishes to receive notification of an application for planning permission, or approval of a reserved matter, or of any class of application, it shall be the duty of the district planning authority to notify the parish or community council of any such application, and to indicate to the parish or community council the nature of the proposed development of the land to which the application relates. Of course, it is no good merely notifying the parish council, unless it is given a chance to make representations.
At the same time we are very anxious that statutory planning applications and decisions on them should not be unduly delayed. Perhaps I receive more complaints about delays by local authorities in making planning decisions than about any other part of the planning system. I do not want to delay them more than absolutely necessary, but, of course, if we are to insist that the local planning authority notifies the parishes, we must give time for the parishes to make representations. We put in the figure of 14 days. I think that will be the right balance between getting on with the job and giving a chance to the parish or community council to react.
These provisions will not come into operation till 1st April, 1974. We gave very serious consideration to bringing them in before that, but I think that, the rules having been laid down, the local authorities, seeing that they will be statutory rules, will get together in voluntary agreements and decide to operate this 793 system of notice to the parishes. Indeed, many local planning authorities do it already, and I am sure that we shall find that there are voluntary arrangements in operation over almost all the country by the time this provision is embodied in the Statute.
§ Sir Robin Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
I should like to say how pleased I am that my right hon. Friend has put in paragraph 8E, bringing in the parishes. At the same time I am a little disappointed that he has made it an opting-in provision. I understood that the arrangements were to be for opting out. We must accept this position, that they have to opt in, but I ask my right hon. Friend what notification he intends to give to parish and community councils about their powers under this Schedule. Will he draw their attention to the need for them, if they so desire, to opt in, either in whole or in part, as laid down here?
There is one other question I should like to ask my right hon. Friend. This Schedule is dealing with the problem generally. What is to happen in the national parks? Are parish councils in the national parks to have the same powers as those parish councils in areas outside the national parks? Usually, the parish councils in the national parks are more alive to the amenities of their localities than are those in areas outside the national parks.
I am a little worried about the 14 days. Presumably there will be a certain amount of time allowed in which the district planning authority will notify the selected parish councils and the 14 days will run after the notification? Perhaps in another place my right hon. Friend will consider enlarging the 14 days to 21, bearing in mind that in rural areas it is not easy to convene a parish council and to get the matter considered in such a short time as 14 days. Prior notice has to be given of a meeting of a parish council, and there is a certain amount of delay in notification.
I have found this a tremendous problem in my constituency. So many planning mistakes have been made by the failure to notify parish councils. Many years ago, a row of new houses was built in a place called Miry Hole. If the parish council had known about it before the planning permission was granted, those 794 houses would not have been built. As it is, they were built. For some time, I had to deal with the problems arising from the fact that each of the garages had three feet of water in it for most of the winter months. A great many mistakes have been made, and I know that that is a story which other hon. Members can duplicate.
The local man knows the needs of his locality. The more that we can encourage our parish councils to take an active part in the consideration of planning applications, the more democracy will function as we all wish.
§ 11.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin Maddan (Hove)
I wish to remind my right hon. Friend of a point that I raised in Committee. When an application, for whatever reason, is sent from a district council to the county council for consideration, what machinery is there to ensure that the person making the planning application is informed that the decision has been transferred from the district to the county? In the exercise of their democratic rights, those who apply for planning permissions naturally try to keep in touch with the council concerned with the decisions. If an application is moved, it is important that the applicant knows that it has moved. Can my right hon. Friend tell me about that and, if it is not provided for in this immensely improved procedure, whether that addition might be written into the Bill in another place?
§ Mr. Leadbitter
I wish to refer to one or two points which still puzzle me about the Minister's decision to improve these provisions. He has referred to paragraph 8E as being a step in the right direction. But does he mean that a parish council or neighbourhood council has to apply to the district council in each and every case of an application for permission, or will this be a once-for-all application to the district that the parish council be informed of all subsequent applications affecting its land? It is important that this be made clear.
The Minister has gone a long way to help us. But I do not understand why it should be necessary for a parish council to ask to be informed about planning decisions. The district council is given powers to deal with applications from its own district. Surely it would be simpler 795 automatically to inform a parish council of planning applications affecting it. What is more, I feel that it would be much easier to inform the residents of an area affected by an application. Far too often we find that permission is given to an applicant for the use of premises, and it is only after the permission is given that it becomes known to nearby residents, by which time their right to object has been lost to them. I think the Minister will be able to answer that essential part of my submission on paragraph 8E.
Why not, if he has gone this far, go a step further and say that all applications affecting a parish should be made known without the need for an application anyway? If he persists—I think he might have good grounds for so doing, because he has obviously thought deeply about this matter—thatan application is required, will he answer my first point and say whether it is a once for all application or whether the parish council has to apply in every case? If it is the latter, how would a parish council be aware of the need to make an application to the district planning authority?
I now turn to paragraph 8(3). My interpretation of sub-paragraph (1),is that in all these cases there is a requirement on the district council to send copies to the county planning authority and the highway authority where the highway authority is not a local authority. If this is the intention, to what extent does an application find itself in a timescale which perhaps brings hardship to the applicant and undue delay in dealing with his proposals?
- "(a) applications for planning permission under Part III;
- (b) applications for determining under section 53 whether an application for such permission is required;
- (c) application for an established use certificate under section 94",
I think the Minister has got the gist of what I am trying to say. Briefly, it means that sub-committees of councils meet once a month, district councils meet once a month to deal with the committee work of that month, and subsequently, I presume, copies of applications go to the county planning authority which meets monthly.
I think that this paragraph should be looked at again. I reserve the right to 796 withdraw from that position if the Minister can explain it tonight. If copies have to be sent to the county planning authority there is the implication that the county planning authority and the highway authority have power to object. If so, we get into an extreme difficulty. First, the district planning authority would not appear to be master in its own house concerning the permissions we are talking about, and, secondly, we may have the difficulty of objections from the parish councils. Therefore, an application which could normally have been dealt with under the previous procedure would, under this procedure, involve too much of a timescale.
I hope that the Minister can remove my worries about the timescale and will indicate whether the position regarding paragraph 8E is as I have described.
§ Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine (Rye)
I thank my right hon. Friend for the proposal which he has brought forward. I had only a modest number of representations on this matter. About a dozen parish councils wrote to me, and all the points that they raised in correspondence with me have been covered. I shall have great pleasure in communicating to them the result of this debate.
§ Mr. Sydney Chapman (Birmingham, Handsworth)
I thank my right hon. Friend for Amendment No. 740, and in particular for paragraph 8E. I had the honour of suggesting in a Clause in a Private Member's Bill which I introduced that parish councils should also have the right, if they so desired, to receive notification of planning applications. As I understand paragraph 8E, they only have to ask to receive notification and they will receive details of every planning application from then on. This is another step in the right direction of trying to get public participation in planning.
Too often the public regard planning as a negative matter which stops them from doing things. All those who are concerned in planning applications know of the bitterness which is felt when people genuinely feel that they have had no chance to make any representations on planning applications in their districts which are received by the local planning authority. As there are so many parish 797 councils, and many parishes do not have councils but have parish meetings, it is reasonable that the onus should be on the parish councils to ask for the information rather than the local planning authorities being obliged, whether the parish councils want it or not, to inform them of the planning applications.
The whole purpose of Amendment No. 740 and paragraph 8E is to make public participation more possible in planning. Surely this is another step towards recognition that the best procedure of informing the public of planning applications, so that they may make representations, is to accept the need for site notices for all planning applications. If that is done, then anyone living in the district can hardly say that they did not know about a planning application if they did not bother to read the notice.
As we want to speed up the decisions on planning applications—in fact, local planning authorities have to give a decision within two months—I suggest that 14 days rather than 21 days is the right period. If my memory serves me correctly, that is generally the number of days that people have to make representations on other matters of planning policy.
§ Mr. Charles Morrison
I agree strongly with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Sydney Chapman). I proposed an Amendment in Committee as a result of which my right hon. Friend made this concession regarding the informing of parish councils of planning applications, and I thank him for having incorporated its provisions at much shorter length. I do not claim the authorship of that Amendment—that was known to my right hon. Friend. It would also be appropriate to congratulate the Parish Councils Association, which has conducted a campaign over a considerable number of years. At last it has achieved its objective regarding the informing of parish councils of planning applications.
§ Mr. Graham Page
My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton) asked what notice parishes would have that they were to have the right to ask for notification of planning applications. We need do nothing about that. The National Association of Parish Councils is so efficient 798 on this matter, having regard to the correspondence which I have mentioned, that I am sure that it will let every parish know that it has the right. Nevertheless, we shall be sending out guidance on this subject to all local planning authorities.
I was about to say, off the cuff, that the national park committee, being practically the local planning authority, would have to do the same thing as the district planning authorities and give notice to the parishes in the area concerned. However, on running my finger down the Amendment, I cannot find the line which would confirm that, and I will look again at the matter. Obviously the parishes incorporated in the national parks should have the same notice as any other parish.
I must stick to the short period of 14 days, otherwise complaints of delay in planning applications will mount. Partly for that reason, we adopted the opting-in procedure rather than the opting-out procedure for the parishes. The parish will have to inform the district planning authority how it wishes to receive these notices. After all, a parish council has not necessarily an office open throughout the day. It may be that the clerk to the parish council will wish the notice delivered to his house or to a convenient address where it will reach him quickly, since he is not a full-time officer. We should like parish councils to notify the district planning authority if they want notices and, if so, where notices are to be sent so that they may receive speedy attention.
I was asked what notice a person would receive if the application he has put in to the district planning authority is passed to the county. We propose to put into the revision of the general development order a procedure for notifying an applicant which authority is dealing with the application.
§ Mr. Page
I do not think that I could provide for that. At that stage in our planning law, the opposer has no real status.
I turn to the question of delay through the sending of notices from the district planning authority to the county planning 799 authority. When we put this proposition to the local authority associations, I was assured that the mere sending of copies and giving them attention would not delay the process, that the county planning authority could deal with the copies received quite adequately, and that there would be no delay there from. The great advantage of this procedure is that the public will know to whom to send their applications. They will always go to the district planning authority. The public need not worry about whether the county is to deal with it; the application will be to the district.
My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hands worth (Mr. Sydney Chapman) mentioned site notices as being the best way to get the public to participate in planning. We had this in consideration when revising the general development order.
The hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) asked whether the notice from the parish would be a once-for-all notice. The answer is, "Yes, indeed." It might be that between the district planning authority and the parish there will be some arrangement for the annual renewal of the notice but that is a matter for them to arrange. Certainly, it is not an application to be made each week or for each copy of every planning application which comes in. If a parish gives notice it will receive notification of all planning applications or any class of planning applications it mentions until it gives notice to the contrary.
I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Charles Morrison) sincerely for raising this matter in Committee, and I am glad that we have been able to develop it into the position as it now stands.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
There is just one point which puzzles some of us in view of the right hon. Gentleman's considerable progress in this matter. In reply to the hon. Member for Hove (Mr. Maddan), the right hon. Gentleman said that an opposer has no legal status in this situation. I did not quite understand what he meant because hitherto I am sure many of us have felt that if an opposer had not a legal status, then certainly within the planning regulations he had some rights. Will the right hon. Gentle- 800 man clarify the point so that it is clear to people outside whether he was referring to the strictly legal aspect or to the rights of opposers?
§ Mr. Page
The opposer of an application can, of course, make his views known to his local councillor or by writing to the council, but if the application is granted, an opposer has no right of appeal against the grant of an application. That is what I meant by saying that an opposer has no real status or standing.
§ Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)
As a rule I find myself in great agreement with my right hon. Friend the Minister but I was horrified democratically when he suddenly said that the opposer has no rights. I simply do not understand that.
I must register here and now that I never heard in Great Britain that the opposer has no rights and no rights of appeal. If my right hon. Friend seems to think that that situation is all right, I will not argue with him now, but it is about time that it was put on our parliamentary record democratically that people who oppose, providing that they are doing it constitutionally and legitimately, have just as much "right as the applicant. I should hate to think that all the years I have been in the Houte of Commons I have not had the right to oppose. If that is a fact, I shall now start getting up more quickly to oppose than ever before. I hope that my right hon. Friend will bear this in mind but if he feels that this is so, I cannot argue about it now, but I find myself curiously in agreement with the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter). That is surprising. We are democratically elected and we feel that we have always a right to oppose.
I do not want to stimulate my right hon. Friend, but may I have an assurance from him that when the Bill gets to the august second Chamber, which I hope perhaps has the same kind of feeling about the rights of people to oppose, he will see to it that they examine this point? I should hate to think I have to go on arguing it year after year until I see that in this democratically elected Parliament we have the right to oppose. If there were no opposition we might not be sitting here as Government of the day—and our being 801 the Government is a jolly good thing. Let us not say that people have no right to oppose. I should contest that view all along the line.
§ Mr. Page
With the permission of the House, may I say that my hon. Friend always stimulates me, and has stimulated the House with her stimulating speech tonight. But I said—and my hon. Friend has proved my case—that an opposer has no legal right or statutory right to oppose. That does not mean that he cannot oppose. My hon. Friend opposes without any statutory right, and does so very efficiently. Anyone can do that. It needs no change of law—
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Patrick Cormack (Cannock)
I beg to move Amendment No. 1167, in page 265, line 46, at end insert—'(8) The Secretary of State shall include in a development order under section 24 provision enabling a county planning authority to impose restrictions on the grant by a district planning authority of planning permission for development relating to land within a conservation area'.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
It will be convenient to discuss Government Amendments Nos. 741 and 743 and also the following Amendments:
No. 1026, in page 266, line 21, leave out
'section 58 (building preservation notices)'.
§ No. 1027, in page 266, line 23, after 'that', insert '(a)'.
No. 1028, in page 266, line 26, at end insert—
';and (b) a district planning authority, subject to sub-paragraph (3) below, shall not grant listed building consent unless they have been authorised or directed to do so by the county planning authority.
(2) Subject to the next following sub-paragraph the provisions of paragraphs 6 and 7 of Schedule 11 shall apply to all applications for listed building consent as though the district planning authority were a London borough council and the county planning authority were the Greater London Council.
(3) The Secretary of State may give directions that, in the use of such district planning authorities as he may specify, paragraph 5 of Schedule 11 shall apply to applications for
listed building consent; and accordingly so long as the directions are in force district planning authorities may determine such applications in such manner as they think fit without notifying the county planning authority'.
§ No. 1029, in page 266, line 27, leave out sub-paragraph (2).
No. 1030, in page 266, line 43, after 'land)', insert—
'section 58 (building preservation notices), sections'.
§ No. 1031, in page 269, line 2, leave out 'and not' and insert 'but'.
No. 1032, in page 269, line 2, after 'authorities', insert—
'shall have the power to make determinations under this section and to designate such areas'.
No. 1033, in page 269, line 9, at end insert—
'and a county planning authority shall consult with the council or councils of the district or districts of which any part is included in the area to which the proposed determination relates'.
§ Mr. Cormack
At this late hour I do not propose to make a long speech, particularly as we had ample opportunity to discuss this matter in Committee. Nevertheless, the debates in Committee—and the Amendments which we were then discussing are now down in the name of the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker)—produced a very interesting, helpful and encouraging reply from my right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Development and yet we have not seen a great deal since. Our essential concern remains exactly the same as it was then, namely, for some of the greatest assets in this country which are contained in our conservation areas. They are not merely local assets. We are talking of things of national and international worth and importance, and great beauty.
The question of who should control these conservation areas, who should determine where they are and how they should be organised is of prime importance. I am not attacking the district councils or the idea that the districts should have a great degree of control in conservation areas, but I am extremely unhappy that they should have absolute power. When there is a conflict between the conservationist and the developer, the developer, with the big battalions, and particularly the big financial battalions, nearly always comes out on top. There 803 is the very difficult potential dilemma of the district council, when confronted with a conflict between rateable values and conservation, perhaps being understandably pulled in the wrong direction.
Among the counties there is an enormous accumulation of expertise in dealing with problems of conservation and, although this is true to a great extent in many of what will be the new districts, like Norwich and Winchester, many district councils will not have this expertise to call upon and it is vital that they should have it in such a frightening transition period.
All we are asking for in the Amendment is for some sort of statutory partnership. My right hon. Friend, when he replied in Committee, seemed alive to the need for this and gave an extremely helpful answer. He indicated that the designation of conservation areas was a local matter and that it should be in the control of the district planning authority. However, he went on to say that the Government were anxious to introduce the expertise and skill to which he had referred when talking of listed buildings. He pointed out that the same sort of expertise applied in selecting and designating conservation areas. He said:…conservation areas are not merely areas of great beauty but also areas of traditional and historical interest".—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 29th February, 1972; c. 1986.]At that stage, and understandably, the Government had no proposals to make and the Bill was left as drafted, with conservation area powers at district level. But my right hon. Friend said at column 1988 of the Official Report of the Committee proceedings on 29th February that it might be right to consider this issue in the context of the Government's own solution for listed buildings. He went on to say in column 1993 that he was not convinced that the right solution for conservation areas had been found and that he would look at the problem again. He did not wish to say too much at that stage because it would involve further consultations with the local authority associations in particular.
I understand from the County Councils Association—and one would have thought that that is one body which might have been consulted with considerable care— 804 that there have been no meaningful consultations since the debate on 29th February. That is disappointing. I can understand the enormous pressure under which my right hon. Friend has had to work in the intervening period, and I am not suggesting that we expect a definitive answer this evening, but what I am very much hoping for is a reply that will indicate that my right hon. Friend has not changed his mind between February and July and that he will at least promise that between now and the Bill being considered in another place something will be done to meet the points which he accepted only five or six months ago.
§ Mr. Graham Page
My hon. Friend said that he was not in this Amendment attacking the districts, but the effect of his Amendment would be to give county planning authorities the right of veto over any decision by a district planning authority to grant planning permission for development relating to land within a conservation area. To that extent he would be taking away the powers given in planning matters to district planning authorities. The function of dealing with development proposals has been allocated by the Bill primarily to district planning authorities. The Amendment would severely limit their discretion in exercising that function in respect of the development within a conservation area.
The designation of a conservation area will be a function of the district planning authorities. They will have the responsibility of deciding which areas are of special archaeological or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to enhance or preserve. I cannot think of anything more suitable for a district to decide than where it shall have its conservation areas. I have always said that the powers which we are giving to district councils are those which will make up the character of the district, and indeed the character of the district will depend a lot upon whether it has conservation areas, and where it has them. As the district planning authorities will have control over the designation of these areas, it would not be right to limit their power to control development within those areas.
Furthermore, this would be counter-productive, as district planning authorities would hardly be likely to designate 805 an area as a conservation area if they knew that this would result, in so far as land in the area was concerned, in a limitation being placed upon their normal powers in relation to development control. I must resist the Amendment and hope that the House will reject it.
The Amendment deals only with the question of conservation areas. As the other Amendments in the group have not been referred to, I must leave them. I do not wish to detain the House by referring to something which has not been raised by the hon. Member who put them down.
May I pass quickly to Amendment No. 741? This is merely the deletion of something superfluous in the drafting. Amendment No. 743 has been tabled because I regret to say that when we drafted paragraph 14 of the Schedule we forgot London. We are trying to remedy that by the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Amendment made: No. 741, in page 266, line 23, leave out from 'authority' to end of line 26.—[Mr. Graham Page.]
§ Mr. Graham Page
I beg to move, Amendment No. 742, in page 266, line 52, leave out from '62' to 'shall' in page 267, line 1, and insert—'or serving, or appearing on an appeal relating to, a notice under section 103'.The Amendment corrects an error of drafting in paragraph 13(2) of Schedule 16.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Amendment made: No. 743, in page 267, line 7, leave out 'district council' and insert—
'borough or district council and, outside Greater London, with'.—[Mr. Graham Page.]
§ Mr. Graham Page
I beg to move, Amendment No. 744, in page 268, line 19, leave out '171, 172, 173 and 176' and insert—'170, 171, 172, 173, 176 and 177'.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this Amendment it will be convenient for the House to discuss Government Amendments Nos. 745 and 746.
§ Mr. Graham Page
The position here is that paragraph 18 makes provision as to the authority to which claims are to 806 be made in respect of compensation arising from the exercise of certain functions by local planning authorities, including the making of orders revoking or modifying grants of planning permission, the serving of building preservation notices and the making of directions under article 4 of the general development order.
The addition of Sections 170 and 177 of the 1971 Act by this Amendment extends the provision of claims for compensation arising from orders under Section 51 of the Act requiring the discontinuance of existing use or the removal or alteration of buildings and claims arising from stop notices. The intention is to add provisions concerning the payment of compensation to the provisions of this paragraph.
Amendment No. 745 merely corrects a drafting fault in paragraph 18(1) of the Schedule.
Amendment No. 746 has rather more substance. It defines the "appropriate authority" to which claims for compensation should be made arising out of orders made or notices served by the Secretary of State. In respect of claims for compensation for revocation or modification of planning permission or for refusal of permission following an article 4 direction, or for revocation or modification of listed building consent, the claim must be made against the local planning authority which granted the permission or consent which is revoked or modified.
In respect of claims for loss or damage caused by service of building preservation notices and compensation for restrictions on advertising, the claim is made to the district planning authority. In respect of claims for compensation arising from discontinuance orders and loss due to stop notices, the claim is made to the local planning authority which in the opinion of the Secretary of State should have made the discontinuance order or served the stop notice which the Secretary of State made or served himself.
I always feel that in these claims for compensation the Secretary of State is in a rather difficult position, because he decides that something is wrong when a planning permission has to be modified or varied. It is not central Government which pays the compensation for the 807 Secretary of State's act but the ratepayer, the local planning authority. However, it is considered that the local planning authority made the mistake, and the ratepayers have to pay. It is always a difficult decision for the Secretary of State to make, when he knows that by making a revocation order he is, as it were, making the local council pay for it.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 745, in page 268, after 'him', insert—
'or, in the case of an order made or notice served by him by virtue of section 276 (default powers) the appropriate authority'.
No. 746, in page 268, line 26, at end insert—
(1A) In this paragraph 'appropriate authority' means—
§ Conversion of highway into footpath or bridleway
20A.—(1) Section 212 (changing highways for vehicles into footpaths or bridleways) shall be amended in accordance with the following provisions of this paragraph.
(2) In subsection (2) for the words from 'made' to 'different)' there shall be substituted the words 'by a local planning authority who have so resolved made after consultation with the highway authority (if different) and any other authority who are a local planning authority for the area in question'.
(3) In subsection (3) after 'consultation with' there shall be inserted the words 'every authority who are a local planning authority for the area in question and'.
(4) In subsections (5) and (6) after the words 'local planning authority' there shall be
inserted the words 'on whose application the order was made'.
(5) In subsection (8) for the words from 'made' to 'different)' there shall be substituted the words ' by any authority who are a local planning authority for the area in question made after consultation with the highway authority (if different) and any other authority who are a local planning authority for that area'.
20B. In section 213(5) (requirement for competent authority to obtain consent from certain other authorities before carrying out and maintaining amenity works on highways reserved to pedestrians) for the words from 'have' to the end of the subsection there shall be substituted the words' consulted the highway authority (if different) and any authority (other than themselves) who are a local planning authority for the area in question'.
§ The Amendment deals with two separate matters under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1971, one under Section 212, which deals with changing highways for vehicles into footpaths or bridleways, and one under Section 213, which deals with the requirement for a competent authority to obtain the consent of certain other authorities before carrying out and maintaining maintenance works on highways reserved for pedestrians. These provisions are reserved at present because of the increasing pedestrianisation of highways.
§ Local planning authorities which have adopted by resolution a proposal for improving the management of part of their area can apply, after consultation with the highway authority, to the Secretary of State for an order providing for the extinguishment of the right of way for vehicles on a highway in that area. Local planning authorities for this purpose are county councils and county borough councils, but it is desirable that, as a part of their responsibility for matters of close local interest, district councils should also be able to exercise this power. It is necessary, however, that county councils should retain the power because they will be the highway authorities. We are giving a concurrent power under both Sections to the county and the districts.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 1101, in page 269, line 13, leave out paragraph 24 and insert—
'24. In paragraph 7 of Schedule 4, as set out in Schedule 1 to the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Act 1972, for the words "11 and 12" there shall be substituted the words "10C, 11, 12 and 14(5) to (7)'
§ No. 748, in page 269, line 26, leave out '8(2)' and insert '8 or 8A'.
§ No. 1105, in page 269, line 43, at end insert '7C to 7G'.—[Mr. Graham Page.]