HC Deb 26 April 1995 vol 258 cc853-4
15. Mr. Eric Clarke

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he is meeting the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to discuss strategic planning. [19584]

Mr. Lang

I have no plans at present to meet COSLA to discuss strategic planning.

Mr. Clarke

Is the Secretary of State aware that the local authorities that are custodians of the green belt in Lothian are amazed at the decision to refuse the Niddrie development? There was a public inquiry, and both the local authority and the public inquiry recommended that the development go ahead. The site is that of an old spoil heap at a colliery, not a green field. Why was an inquiry held? What was the use of the inquiry if the Government do not accept its findings? What conclusion can we draw from that decision, which has delayed the local authorities' strategic planning by the two years that it took to conduct the investigation?

Mr. Lang

My role is to consider the recommendations of the local public inquiry, but I also have responsibility to safeguard the green belt. I have to take account of the region's structure plan and of the proposals under consideration. I considered all the factors carefully and decided that the Cauldcoats farm proposal—a major development in the green belt whereby 250 to 300 houses might have been built—was not desirable. I therefore took the action that I did.

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