HC Deb 28 April 1986 vol 96 cc644-5
2. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many planning appeals have been made to his Department during the last year for which figures are available.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Mark Robinson)

In 1985 my Department received 912 planning appeals, 239 enforcement appeals and 11 other miscellaneous appeals.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Minister aware of the grave misgivings in many parts of Wales, particularly in Gwynedd, at the way in which the Welsh Office upholds appeals about second homes in sensitive areas? As, in a project for 700 second homes in the village of Morfa Bychan, which will become a town as large as Porthmadog if the project is implemented, an application going back to 1964 is now in dispute, will he give an assurance that the Welsh Office—in view of its acceptance of the local infrastructure plan and its designation of an SSSI on that exact spot in 1971—will stand up with the local community against such an outrageous development?

Mr. Robinson

Our view on the general use of occupancy conditions has not changed. As the hon. Gentleman is aware, all planning appeals go to the Secretary of State's inspectors, who take the decision. They have not been given any recent or fresh instructions. It is open to local authorities to purchase homes which they fear may be used for secondary purposes. In that event, they may use their in-year receipts, and it is always open to them to come to the Secretary of State with proposals if their in-year receipts have already been utilised. We have a recent example of a local authority where that has been done. The Morfa Bychan case is a matter for the local planning authority, Dwyfor district council, not for my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Gwilym Jones

As my right hon. Friend will know, this week his Department is holding a public inquiry into two planning appeals for Tongwynlais in my constituency. What provisions are possible for last minute representations, in view of the present postal strike in Cardiff in south Wales?

Mr. Robinson

Obviously I cannot comment on individual cases. However, if my hon. Friend is aware of people wishing to make such representations, and can get them to send their representations to the Welsh Office, we shall ensure that they are delivered to the inspector. Where planning appeals have not come to the Welsh Office because they have been affected by the postal dispute, we shall make arrangements for them to be taken into account.

Dr. Marek

Is the Minister aware of the ground rules for these appeals, that inspectors, in deciding these appeals, are influenced by his Department, and that there have been many decisions within the Principality which have been resented by the community, including in Wrexham, where appeals have been allowed for supermarkets on completely unsuitable sites and for cramped housing in areas where it should not have been built? Will the Minister see whether he can pay more attention to the expressed wishes of the community in deciding appeals when they come before him?

Mr. Robinson

The Government regard the right of appeal as extremely valuable in the planning process. The inspectors must take into account all material and relevant factors, including the wishes of the local community. The Secretary of State relies on the inspectors' reports.