HL Deb 03 February 1982 vol 426 cc1295-6

2.57 p.m.

Lord Henley

My Lords, I beg leave 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 will call in the application for the demolition of the unlisted buildings in the conservation area known as Little Britain, London, EC1, for decision by the Secretary of State for the Environment.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is aware of the proposals referred to by the noble Lord and is presently considering whether to exercise his powers to call in the applications and determine them himself. If he does so, he would deal with them concurrently with the appeals already lodged in respect of applications to demolish certain listed buildings within the development site.

Lord Henley

My Lords, I thank my noble kinsman for that Answer. May I ask him to take it a little further and ask the Secretary of State to consider calling in the application for detailed planning permission for the redevelopment of the site, in view of the considerable public interest in the area and in view of the fact that the new plans include at 250 ft. office block and the destruction of the existing mediaeval street pattern? Also will he stress to the Secretary of State the importance of calling this in so that the matter may be considered by a impartial tribunal?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, if my right honourable friend calls in the application then detailed planning approval would of course be taken into account.

Baroness Birk

My Lords, while I find the Minister's reply certainly rather hopeful, is it not true that at the Smithfield district plan inquiry the question of the road, Route 11, was outside the inspector's jurisdiction? Would he not agree that this proposed road stems from 1947, since when there have been considerable changes in traffic needs and conservation attitudes? Is not the only proper way for the Secretary of State, as the Minister rather intimated, to call this in and consider it together with the appeal which is before him for the three listed buildings, and therefore to consider both the road and the unlisted buildings application in what is now a conservation area in an historic part of the City of London?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for bringing up yet another point in this very delicate issue. As I said, my right honourable friend is thinking of calling this in, and I am sure that that will be one of the considerations.

Lord Reilly

My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether he is aware that the Royal Fine Art Commissioners view this development with the utmost dismay and, further, that they feel very strongly that two at least of the unlisted buildings should be retained?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I am aware that my right honourable friend has received a number of representations about the proposals. I was not previously aware of that one, but it is now on the record.