§ 104.—(1) The provisions of this section shall have effect where a notice has been served under section 65 of this Act.
§ (2) Subject to the following provisions of this sect ion, if any owner or occupier of the land on whom the notice was served fails to take any steps required by the notice within the period specified in it for compliance with it, he shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £200.
§ (3) If a person against whom proceedings are brought under subsection (2) of this section as the owner of the land has, at some time before the end of the period allowed for compliance with the notice, ceased to be the owner, he shall, upon information duly laid by him, and on giving to the prosecution not less than three clear days' notice of his intention, be entitled to have the person who then became the owner brought before the court in the proceedings.
§ (4) If a person against whom proceedings are brought under subsection (2) of this section as the occupier of the land has, at some time before the end of the period allowed for compliance with the notice, ceased to be the occupier, he shall, upon information duly laid by him, and on giving to the prosecution not less than three clear days' notice of 719 his intention, be entitled to have any person who then became the occupier brought before the court in the proceedings.
§ (5) If—
- (a) a person against whom proceedings are brought under subsection (2) of this section as the occupier of the land, has, at some time before the end of the period allowed for compliance with the notice, ceased to be the occupier; and
- (b) nobody then became the occupier,
§ (6) If, after it has been proved that any steps required by the notice under section 65 of this Act have not been taken within the period allowed for compliance with that notice, the original defendant proves that the failure to take those steps was attributable, in whole or in part, to the default of a person specified in a notice under this section—
- (a) that person may be convicted of the offence; and
- (b) the original defendant shall be acquitted of the offence if he further proves that he took all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the notice.
§ (7) If, after a person has been convicted under the preceding provisions of this section, he does not as soon as practicable do everything in his power to secure compliance with the notice, he shall be guilty of a further offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £20 for each day following his first conviction on which any of the requirements of the notice remain unfulfilled.
§ (8) Any reference in this section to the period allowed for compliance with a notice is a reference to the period specified in the notice for compliance with it or to such extended period as the local planning authority who served the notice may allow for compliance with it."
§ 10C. The words "who served the notice in question under section 65 of this Act" shall be added at the end of section 106 of that Act (appeal to Crown Court).
§ 10D. In section 107 of that Act (execution and cost of works required by notice as to waste land) the words "who served the notice" shall be inserted after the words "the local planning authority"—
- (a) in both places where they occur in subsection (1); and
- (b) in subsection (2)."
§ Mr. Hastings
These amendments are concerned with waste land. Section 65 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 enables a local planning authority to serve a notice on the owner or occupier of neglected or unsightly land, referred to as waste land, requiring its proper maintenance—in other words, that it should be tidied up. Unfortunately, section 104(2) of the Act, which deals with the penalty for non-compliance with a waste land notice, has proved ineffective. It can operate only if positive action is taken to continue or aggravate the existing position, which means if the waste land is rendered even more wasteful.
Non-compliance by itself does not attract the penalty. The effect of Lords amendment No. 7 is to remove that deficiency by amending section 104 to provide that non-compliance with the waste land notice constitutes an 720 offence, and by creating a second offence in the event of failure to comply with the notice of a conviction. That is the effect of the new paragraph 10B.
The new paragraphs 10C and 10D are formal and minor. Paragraph 16 of schedule 15 to the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 amended section 65 of the 1971 Act to replace the words "local planning authority" by the wordsdistrict planning authority or the council of a London borough.By an oversight at the time, consequential amendments needed in sections 106 and 107 of the 1971 Act were not made, and they are now effected by paragraphs 10C and 10D.
Lords amendment No. 10 provides for the repeal of paragraph 30 of schedule 16 to the Local Government Act 1972, and is simply consequential to the new paragraph 10C in Lords amendment No. 7, which provides the new definition of the authority which may appeal under section 106 of the 1971 Act.
These amendments were supported in another place, and I commend them to the House as a useful strengthening of the waste land provisions of the 1971 Act, which will be particularly helpful to planning authorities in heavily populated urban and inner city areas.
§ Mr. Graham
This is a useful additional weapon in the armoury of a planning committee.
I am minded of two situations in my constituency where this would be helpful. In one, development took place along Hertford Road in Edmonton. It is bounded by Rosemary Avenue. The development resulted in a site being land-locked. The development, which took place 80 or 90 years ago, had grown from Hertford Road around Rosemary Avenue, and the situation became impossible. The builder and the developer decided to leave the land as it was. It was waste land. Although vehicles cannot get into it, it is surprising how much rubbish, old furniture and other obnoxious materials have found their way there. It is often difficult to establish to whom the land belongs. I finally established that it belonged to a local estate agent. It is his responsibility, and it did not need much pressure from the local authority to chivvy him, but the person concerned has to be chivvied repeatedly because the land will never be used. The neighbours of the plot find the situation most aggravating, particularly in a hot summer.
The other example is in College Gardens, where there is reasonable access, but the land is not capable of being developed by the owner. As a consequence, the only incentive for him to keep it tidy is a reminder from people who are able to wave a stick and warn him of the penalties for causing a nuisance.
The new legislation puts teeth into existing legislation which has proved ineffective. People living around such areas would gladly do something, but it is not their responsibility. This legislation provides the local council with more muscle to say to the two people involved "If you do not take action, you will be forced to do so and to do it properly, and it will cost you money". At College Gardens the weeds have grown. The man chops them down every year, but more than that is required. He needs to spend more money this year so that less money needs be spent in the next four or five years. However, the council's powers are limited.
721 I therefore warmly welcome the amendment because, with the others, it will be a useful addition for improving the environment, particularly in urban areas like Edmonton.
§ Sir Marcus Kimball
Both the last groups of amendments on tree preservation orders and this group, as the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Graham) said, should put teeth into the powers of local authorities. However, the one thing that would put teeth into those powers would be to persuade the Ordnance Survey to reproduce again—something that it has not done since 1906—the 25 in.—or whatever the equivalent is in the continental scales that we now use—Ordnance Survey map of Great Britain.
I remember a technical boundary dispute which was solved by the position of one scrub rowan tree on the side of a mountain which was shown on the 25 in. survey. Local authorities would find life a great deal easier, particularly when dealing with small areas of land and individual trees which were shown on the 25 in. survey, if Her Majesty's Ordnance Survey responded powerfully to the plea: "We are very sorry that we have lost the 2½ in. map, the most beautiful map that has ever been produced, but if you have any surplus capacity will you seriously think about reproducing the 25 in. map of Great Britain?" After all, we are a densely populated island, and there is no reason why we should not have a really accurate map on which all these things are properly recorded.
§ Mr. Giles Shaw
I note what my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir M. Kimball) said about the Ordnance Survey. I shall investigate the matter and write to him.
If amendment No. 7 is accepted, we shall improve the prospects of enforcing the recovery and treatment of waste land. If we add to that the recent arrangements for the registration of land in inner cities for, we hope, disposal, and the changes that we have recently announced in the Minerals Planning Bill, the House will provide considerable prospect for the improvement of derelict areas, whether caused by ancient mining, whether they occur in city centres, or whether they occur because land in the ownership of many authorities has not been disposed of. It is a comprehensive approach to the removal of many scars in the cities to which the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Graham) referred.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Lords amendment No. 8 agreed to.
Lords amendment: No. 9, in page 17, line 24, at end insert—
20A. In Schedule 9 to that Act (determination of certain appeals by person appointed by Secretary of State) in paragraph 2 (which relates to the powers and duties of the person determining an appeal)
§ Mr. Hastings
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.
Here we are concerned with the powers of inspectors. The amendment inserts in the schedule a new paragraph 20A after the existing paragraph 20 on page 17 at line 24. It seeks to make some minor consequential amendments, which were overlooked when the Bill was drafted, in paragraph 2 of schedule 9 to the 1971 Act.
The purpose of schedule 9 to the 1971 Act is to specify the powers and duties of inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State to determine certain of the planning and enforcement appeals which are made, in the first instance, to the Secretary of State. For those purposes, an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State carries out the same functions in determining one of those appeals as the Secretary of State would carry out if he were determining the appeal. Paragraph 2 of schedule 9 to the 1971 Act gives the inspector who is to determine an appeal the same powers as the Secretary of State has under part V of the 1971 Act. Since some of the powers of the Secretary of State to determine enforcement appeals are being amended by the Bill, it is appropriate to ensure that the powers of an inspector continue to correspond exactly to the new powers given to the Secretary of State. That is the effect of the amendment.
In case there is any doubt about the precise effect of the amendment, it may be helpful if I explain that it does not alter any of the classes or categories of planning or enforcement appeals that are to be transferred for decision by an inspector whom the Secretary of State appoints to decide an appeal. For example, the majority of ordinary enforcement appeals will continue to be decided by an inspector, but all mineral and listed building enforcement appeals will continue to be decided by the Secretary of State on the same basis as they are decided at present.
If I may be allowed another instant of the time of the House, this is the last that I shall have to say on the subject, and I should like to express my deep thanks to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and his officials for all their help, without which it would have been impossible for me to bring the Bill as far forward as it has got. My hon. Friend was good enough to say that it might be a useful swan song. That is indeed so, because I doubt whether there will be another song from me on this basis. When it comes to a Private Member's Bill arriving on the statute book, it is a first sheep as well as a swan song. I hope that it will prove useful.
I want also to express my thanks to my hon. Friends the Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) arid for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Heddle), who have contributed a great deal to our debates and to the Bill. Last, but far from least, I thank the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Graham), who speaks with vast experience of these matters and who consistently has been very helpful on every occasion that we have debated these provisions.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Lords Amendment No. 10 agreed to.