HC Deb 18 December 2002 vol 396 cc830-1
5. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)

If he will make a statement on third-party rights in the planning process. [86322]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Christopher Leslie)

The views of interested parties are taken into account in drawing up development plans and when reaching decisions on individual applications. The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill contains new measures that give local residents and third parties greater opportunities to participate more effectively in the planning process.

Keith Vaz

I am sure that the Minister agrees that unlimited involvement by third parties in the planning process will paralyse the whole system. However, does he accept that a limited right at major inquiries, perhaps funded by the taxpayer, would ensure that third-party objectors can put their views across in a focused way, thus shortening those long inquiries?

Mr. Leslie

I have heard what my hon. Friend has said about the need to support residents and interested parties, especially in larger-scale applications. I believe that there are prospects of more support, not only from our announcement about funding for Planning Aid, but from changes such as the introduction of mediators in the inquiry process and round-table discussions to make sure that details are fully understood at an early stage of inquiries.

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