HL Deb 19 February 1958 vol 207 cc807-9

2.57 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they can give an assurance that, in accordance with the answer given by the then Minister without Portfolio on 26th March, 1957, the site in Chelsea which the London County Council acquired before the war for use as a fire station, but let in January, 1957, to a tenant whom they permitted to develop and use it as a car mart for a limited period expiring on 1st April. 1958, will not be used as a car mart after that date.]


My Lords, the then Minister without Portfolio, my noble friend Lord Munster, explained in his Answer of March 26, 1957, that one of the conditions which the London County Council had attached to the permission given for the use of this site in Chelsea as a car mart was that it would be for a limited period expiring on April 1, 1958. I am not in a position, however, to give the assurance now asked for by my noble friend Lord Conesford, since, if a further application were made for permission to continue the temporary use of this site as a car mart when the current permission expires, that application would be a matter for the London County Council to determine as the local planning authority. Appeal would lie to my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, if the Council should decide to refuse the application.


My Lords, may I ask whether Her Majesty's Government approve of the acquisition by the London County Council of a site for one purpose and then their using it for a very different purpose, which conflicts with the Development Plan and is strongly opposed by the local authority concerned?


I am aware of the facts to which my noble and learned friend refers, but I think they are a matter solely for the London County Council and not for my right honourable friend.


My Lords, does my noble friend recall that the London County Council installed this tenant in this site and allowed him to develop it in order to get rid of him in Stockwell, where they had commenced legal proceedings against him? Is that good planning?


I am well aware of all those facts. Whether or not it is good planning is, I repeat, a matter for the London County Council and not for my right honourable friend.


My Lords, would the Minister not agree that when this question was raised last year it was admitted that, although it was not customary for the Minister to intervene in a case of this kind he had power to do so if he thought it desirable? Would the Minister see that this case is regarded as a whole, not so much from the point of view of the importance of this small site itself but because of the light it throws on the methods and principles adopted in the wide area over which the London County Council has planning authority? If so, would he have regard to the facts cited by the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, last year, and added to just now, as indicating, or suggesting, that the wide powers given under the planning Acts to the planning authorities are being used in some respects in a way that was never intended?


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Salter is quite correct. My right honourable friend the Minister has the power of intervention if he considers that a matter of major importance or some general planning policy is involved. He did not so consider at the time this matter was brought to his attention a year ago, but I will make it my business to bring to his attention now the points my noble friend has just made.