HC Deb 14 December 1988 vol 143 cc900-1
9. Mr. Chapman

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on progress by local planning authorities in drawing up, entering into public consultation and implementing statutory local plans (a) generally and (b) in the outer London boroughs.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Christopher Chope)

In terms of population, about 65 per cent. of London and about 20 per cent of the rest of England are covered by adopted local plans, with a further 10 to 15 per cent covered by draft plans. Thirteen of the 19 outer London boroughs have complete coverage of adopted or deposited local plans. I hope that the planning policy guidance note published on 30 November will accelerate the preparation and adoption of local plans elsewhere.

Mr. Chapman

I thank my hon. Friend for his detailed reply. I accept that the borough of Barnet has published its draft local plan and is now conducting the statutory six months of public consultation, but can my hon. Friend give an assurance that local planning authorities can turn down planning applications that they deem out of scale and character with neighbouring buildings?

More important, can my hon. Friend assure us that if there are appeals on such planning applications, while the Secretary of State must, of course, look at each appeal individually, there will be some recognition that he will uphold planning authorities that turn down applications because they are out of scale and character?

Mr. Chope

I am happy to give my hon. Friend the assurances that he seeks. Those matters are set out in detail in paragraph 22 of the planning policy guidance note.

Mr. Cousins

Will the Minister take up urgently with his colleagues at the Department of Transport key issues such as the motorway proposals now overshadowing much of outer west London? Adequate performance of the fine-grain detail of planning in statutory local plans is being completely overshadowed by major proposals for capital infrastructure investment affecting the lives of entire communities.

Mr. Chope

Obviously some matters—the hon. Gentleman has referred to them—must be dealt with by means of a national or regional strategy, but many others must be dealt with locally. There is considerable demand from local residents that their own local councils resolve such matters.

Mr. Jessel

On local plans for outer London, will my hon. Friend take careful note that it is against the wishes of the public that their leafy roads in outer London should gradually be turned into blocks of six, eight and 12 flats? Will such public feeling be reflected in decisions on planning appeals?

Mr. Chope

My hon. Friend has made a valid point. It is one of the reasons why the new planning policy guidance note contains express reference to allowing local authorities to include in their local plans references to policies on densities for new housing.