HL Deb 17 July 1980 vol 411 cc2010-1

6.11 p.m.

Lord ELTON rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 25th June be approved. The noble Lord said: The noble Lord has reversed the order of "batting" and has already welcomed this order. I beg to move this order formally, but I cannot be as brief as the noble Lord because there must be something on the record, although it will not be very much. This order was also laid before the House on 25th June 1980. Your Lordships will have noted that its principal purpose is to consolidate the existing legislation in Northern Ireland governing the laying out and the construction standards of streets. This legislation is in the Private Streets Act (Northern Ireland) 1964. That Act has been substantially amended, particularly in 1973 when the functions of town and country planning, road authority and private street matters were transferred to the former Ministry of Development. As a result it is somewhat obscure.

The nature of the subject means that the draft order now before your Lordships is necessarily a complex measure. Part II deals with the layout of new streets in planning terms and with the detailed way in which they are to be constructed. Part III deals with the adoption of streets into the public roads system. Part IV sets out the procedures for departmental action either if there is default in new development, or if older streets are needed to be made up to standard. Part V ensures that before new buildings are begun there is a legally-binding assurance that the streets will be provided. All the provisions follow the long-established principle that streets which are to be adopted into the public road system should be provided at the expense of the developer or, in older streets, the frontagers. At the same time, there are opportunities for appeal at various stages.

My Lords, although the order is mainly a re-enactment of existing law, the opportunity is being taken to reword a few provisions for the sake of clarity, and to include some other amendments, the necessity for which has been indicated by experience. I shall mention only two of these. First, there is Article 5(1)(e). This is new and would permit regulations to be made to allow samples to be taken of materials (for example, of bitumen) to ensure that streets are properly constructed. Regulations would also provide that the department may recover the cost of taking those samples and testing them and, under Article 5(1)(g), may forbid work starting before plans are approved and any dispute resolved. Article 5(1)(h) would also allow regulations to be made for the recovery of the cost incurred by the department in making good a defective street in the event of default by the developer.

Secondly, your Lordships may be interested in Article 24 which requires developers to give a form of guarantee that streets will be provided at their expense and not at public expense. Article 24(8) lists the cases where this requirement does not apply. Subparagraphs (a) and (b) are new and would exempt buildings proposed to be erected in the grounds of existing buildings and would also exempt buildings on land belonging to a public body. Subparagraphs (g) and (h) are also new and would exempt streets which will remain remote from public roads and streets which, having been substantially built-up when the Private Streets Act of 1964 came into force, have only had space for in-filling development.

My Lords, this order, will, I think, be welcomed not only by those who press for consolidation of legislation generally, but those who need to refer to the law in an up-to-date form on this subject. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 25th June be approved.—(Lord Elton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.