§ 10A. For section 101 of that Act (which gives a local authority power to execute urgent works for the preservation of unoccupied listed buildings) there shall be substituted the following section:—
§ 101.—(1) This section applies to any building which satisfies one of the conditions specified in subsection (2) below but is not an excepted building as defined in section 58(2) of this Act.
§ (2) The conditions mentioned in subsection (1) above are—
- (a) that the building is a listed building;
- (b)that a direction that this section shall apply to the building has been given under subsection (3) below.
§ (3) If it appears to the Secretary of State, in the case of a building which is not a listed building but is situated in a 1074 conservation area. that it is important to preserve it for the purpose of maintaining the character or appearance of the conservation area, he may direct that this section shall apply to it.
§ (4) If it appears to a local authority that any works are urgently necessary for the preservation of a building to which this section applies and which is situated in their area, they may execute the works, after giving the owner,(and occupier, if any) of the building not less than fourteen days' notice in writing of their intention to do so in the case of a building which is in residential occupation immediately before the service of the notice, or not less than seven days' notice in the case of any other building.
§ (5) If it appears to the Secretary of State that any works are urgently necessary for the preservation of a building to which this section applies, he may execute the works, after giving the owner (and occupier, if any) of the building not less than fourteen clays' notice in writing of his intention to do so in the case of a building which is in residential occupation immediately before the service of the notice, or not less than seven days' notice in the case of any other building.
§ (6) Before a local authority may execute any work under the terms of subsection (4) above, they shall, if it is reasonably practicabe to do so in all the circumstances of the case including the urgency of the case, consider—
- (a) any alternative uses to which the building could be put;
- (b) the financial circumstances of the owner of the building; and
- (c) the prospects of its disposal for a reasonable consideration if placed on the open market.
§ (7) The local authority or, as the case may be, the Secretary of State may give notice to the owner of the building requiring him to pay the expenses of any works executed under subsection (4) or (5) above; and if such a notice is given by the local authority or the Secretary of State, the amount specified in the notice shall be recoverable from the owner, subject to subsection (8) to (10) below.
§ (8) Within 28 days of the date of a notice under subsection (7) above, the owner may represent. to the Secretary of State—
- (a) that the amount specified in the notice is unreasonable;
- (b) that recovery of it would cause him undue hardship; or
- (c) that some or all of the works were unnecessary for the preservation of the building.
§ (9( The Secretary of State shall determine the extent, if any, to which representations under subsection (8) above are justified.
§ (10) The Secretary of State shall give the owner and the local authority notice of any determination under subsection (9) above and of the reasons for it, and of the amount (if any) which is to be recoverable from the owner, and no sum shall be recoverable from him unless it is so notified.
§ (11) Any sum recoverable under the provisions of subsection (7) to (10) above shall be a charge on the building until recovered and the provisions of section 291 of the Public Health Act 1936 shall apply to the recovery thereof as if it had been incurred under that Act."
§ The amendment is in part., the clause of a Bill which I introduced under the Ten Minutes Rule on 27 January and which received a Second Reading. Its effect is to substitute a considerably amended version of section 101 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 instead of the existing section 101 of that Act. It provides local authorities with the power to execute urgent works for the preservation of unoccupied buildings—particularly listed buildings—and, in particular, to remove the restriction on the use of the powers only in buildings which are unoccupied. To a large extent, the clause follows the form of the existing section 101, but it increases the notice period in section 101(4) from seven to 14 days, and in section 101(6) it empowers local authorities to consider, first, any alternative uses to which the building can be put, second the financial circumstances of the building's owner, and, lastly, the prospects of its disposal for a reasonable consideration on the open market.
§ Mr. Giles Shaw
The Government recognise the desirability of strengthening the repair provisions in the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, but this 1075 amendment does not achieve our aim. In our view, it has a number of drawbacks. The proposed section 101(1) would apply the existing provisions to occupied property as well as to unoccupied property. The possible objections to the change relate to invasion of privacy, the impracticability of effecting repairs in occupied premises, and problems relating to rights of entry. There are also the practical problems of resistance and violence if councils try to enforce their rights.
The increased period of notice—14 days—which the local authority must give before executing urgent works is not sufficient to be certain of finding alternative accommodation for occupiers, and may raise problems as to who should find and pay for such alternative accommodation. Section 101(6) would make the local authority the sole judge of whether it is reasonably practical to consider the items stated in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c). In addition, there seems no reason why a local authority should need to consider alternative uses for the building and prospects for disposal, when a local authority cannot dictate to an owner for what he may use the building and cannot compel an owner to sell it, other than by compulsory purchase. The subsection diverges from the main issue whether works are urgently necessary for the preservation of the building and should be carried out, and at the same time it ties up a local authority in various considerations which are probably not germane to the issue.
In the light of what I have said, I hope that my hon. Friend will withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Hastings
I beg to move amendment No. 9, in page 15, line 6, at end add—`10A. In subsection (1)(c) of section 225 of that Act (applications for planning permission by statutory undertakers) for the words "(7) of section 88" there shall be substituted the words "(3) of section 88B".'This is a minor consequential amendment to section 225(1)(c) of the 1971 Act, which is made necessary by the transfer, effected in paragraph 1 of the schedule to this Bill, of certain of the enforcement appeal provisions in the 1971 Act and the present section 88(7) to the new section 88B(3). When an enforcement appeal is made to the Secretary of State it also involves the making of a deemed application for planning permission to him for the development alleged to be in breach of planning control. When such an appeal is made by a statutory undertaker, for instance, British Rail or the CEGB, the deemed planning application is to be jointly dealt with by the Secretary of State and the appropriate Minister in the sponsoring Department for the statutory undertaker.
The amendment simply maintains the present arrangements by reference to the re-enacted provisions in the new section 88B of the 1971 Act.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Amendment made: No. 10, in page 15, line 34, leave out, Planning and Land Act 1980' and insert 'and Planning (Amendment) Act 1981'.—[Mr. Hastings.]
§ Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
§ Bill reported, with amendments.
§ Mr. Hastings
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
We have had less time than I had hoped for the House to examine and for me to explain the Bill, which I believe to be of real importance. I was grateful to the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Graham) for his support and for everything that he said. His observations on these matters are important to us all. His experience of planning is a great deal more profound than mine. I was glad that he said what he did.
I am also grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Heddle) for the great interest that he has shown and for the amendments that he moved, with which I have some sympathy. I wish to say a word of thanks to my hon. Friend the Minister for his elucidation and support of the Bill, and also for all the help that he rendered during the preparation and drafting of it. Without that help, I would have been very much more at sea than I proved to be in Committee.
The points raised by the hon. Member for Edmonton were important. I hope that he is, to some extent, satisfied with the Minister's remarks. I hope that his points will be taken into account at a later stage if that is possible. I extend a word of thanks also to the local authorities, without whose contributions the drafting would have been a great deal more difficult.
People complain, often with good reason, that their lives are being made intolerable by abuses of planning procedures. We have all experienced that in our constituencies. They find it impossible to understand why nothing is done, or why it takes so long for anything to happen. I wish to quote the example of an ice cream vendor, to whom there was objection for good reasons, who managed to get away with three seasons before the procedure caught up with him. I hope that under the provisions in the Bill the procedure will catch up with him a great deal sooner.
There is a tradition of Private Member's Bills on this subject. My hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Smith) introduced one in 1977, which proved useful. Mine is a further instalment, but it goes wider and remodels the provisions for enforcement contained in the 1971 Act. I hope that it proves to be a worthy successor to my hon. Friend's measure.
The Bill may not be among the most wildly entertaining or exciting measures to pass through the House in 1981, but I believe that it will have an entirely beneficial effect.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.