HC Deb 04 December 1991 vol 200 cc254-5
11. Mr. Steen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement as to the progress he is making in implementation of the Planning and Compensation Act 1991.

Sir George Young

My right hon. Friend has already brought some provisions of the Act into force and intends to bring all its provisions into force progressively within about one year of enactment.

Mr. Steen

Is my hon. Friend aware that directors of planning all over the country and hon. Members of all parties are concerned that the number of unauthorised developments has risen from 60,000 in 1988 to more than 90,000 in 1990? Will he assure the House that the new planning practice guidance that he is to issue will give planners teeth, and not just false teeth, to deal with the unauthorised developments being built all over the country? Planners must be given powers to stop that happening before such developments cover the countryside.

Sir George Young

The particular provisions of the Planning and Compensation Act 1991 in the consideration of which my hon. Friend played such a distinguished part do not come into force until next month, so directors of planning will not yet have had the benefit of the provisions. They come into effect next month and we shall issue planning policy guidance later this month. I hope that when planning directors have the new powers available to them they will be able to take faster and more effective action against unauthorised development.

Mr. Win Griffiths

Does the Minister intend to bring the concept of sustainable development right into planning guidance as a primary role? Will he confirm that the primary role of the plan will take precedence over all other considerations? Will he beef up the public consultation procedures which his Department are currently casting aside like autumn leaves shrivelling on the ground, or do we have to wait for a Labour Government in the full flush of a green spring and summer to bring sense back into our planning system?

Sir George Young

No, that delay will not be necessary. We had a long debate in Committee on sustainable development. There was a lot of sympathy for the concept, but we saw real difficulties about enshrining it in the planning machinery without far more information about how one would take the concept of sustainable development forward in district plans. We are moving towards a plan-led system in which, other things being equal, what is in the plan will happen.

There is a balance between getting the plans up and running quickly and a protracted consultation procedure. We do not want to diminish the opportunities of local people to consult on the plans, and I do not believe that we have cut corners in the way that the hon. Gentleman implied.

Back to