§ Mr. Heddle
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the practice of Her Majesty's Government for establishing the value of surplus Crown land prior to its disposal; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Giles Shaw
The understanding of successive Governments has been that it is not open to the Crown to seek a planning permission under the Town and Country Planning Acts in respect of Crown land in order to establish its value prior to disposal. That understanding has recently been confirmed by an opinion of the Law Officers. The Government are advised that where there is no interest in land held otherwise than by or on behalf of the Crown relevant statutory provisions relating to Crown460W landsection 266(1)(b) of the 1971 Act, which relates to England and Wales, and section 253(1)(b) of the 1972 A ct, which relates to Scotland — preclude any grant of planning permission, and that it is open neither to the Crown nor to any third party to apply for permission in such circumstances.
In the light of this advice the Government will continue, when disposing of land, to use the present informal procedures for obtaining opinions from local planning authorities on what development if any they would regard as acceptable. These are laid down for England and Wales in circular 49/63 of the former Ministry of Housing and Local Government. It will also be necessary to consider the validity of any planning appeals or called in planning applications which may have been made by third parties in relation to Crown land. Local authorities, too, will need to consider the validity of any applications in relation to Crown land which are currently before them. They may also in due course wish to consider sympathetically any fresh applications submitted in respect of former Crown land in cases where the validity of a permission previously granted is in doubt.
It is proposed to give further and more detailed guidance to local authorities on planning aspects of Crown development and disposal of Crown land.