HC Deb 16 March 1988 vol 129 cc1096-7
12. Mr. Thurnham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many planning appeals have been decided by him during the last 12 months.

Mr. Ridley

A total of 17,606 appeals were decided in the 12 months to January 1988 — 619 by myself and 16,987 by my inspectors.


Does my right hon. Friend welcome the fact that the inspectors' advice has been overruled much less often under this Government than under the last Labour Government? Will he confirm that, when their advice is overruled, careful judgment should always be exercised, especially if historic covenants are involved?

Mr. Ridley

I confirm that the number of times when inspectors' advice has not been taken by the Miniser, in those cases where Ministers have decided appeals for themselves, has fallen considerably from the days of our predecessors. As my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning informed my hon. Friend yesterday, applications may be made to me for the discharge or modification of certain restrictions and I will, of course, consider such applications on their merit.

Mr. Haynes

Why does the Secretary of State ignore people who object to planning applications from a large organisation that wants to build a large store that will affect small businesses, particularly in my constituency? Why does he say yes to a large organisation that contributes to Conservative party funds?

Mr. Ridley

The other side in these cases—those who wish to make developments—is equally ferocious and sometimes just as vehement as the hon. Gentleman in complaining about not being able to obtain planning permission.

Mr. Forman

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the strongest complaints from residents in my part of the world, Carshalton, and elsewhere, is that far too often the local planning authority is bereft of effective powers to control local developers? Given that his hon. Friend said in answer to an earlier question that such matters are best decided locally, will he reconsider the proportion of cases that go to appeal, as that seems to convey an unfair advantage to property developers who use the length of their purse and their determination to wear down local residents?

Mr. Ridley

Ninety eight per cent. of planning permissions are given by local authorities, and only 2 per cent. result from appeals to Ministers. That puts the matter in perspective and makes it clear that local planning authorities take 98 per cent. of the decisions to grant permission. This matter must not be seen out of perspective.