HC Deb 21 December 1988 vol 144 cc353-5W
Mr. Allan Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what conclusions the Government have reached following the consultation on the proposals to modernise the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Scotland) Order 1973; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

My right hon. and learned Friend and I are grateful to all those who commented on the proposals set out in consultation paper of 4 August 1988. The paper attracted over 100 responses, as a result of which we intend to make a number of changes to the original proposals. I shall outline these briefly.

Class 1 Retailing Financial and Professional Services

Our proposals for this class have been proved to be the most controversial in the consultation paper. Although there was some support for the creation of a use class embracing shops and offices selling services directly to the public we have concluded, in view of the opposition to the proposal, not to proceed with the new combined class. We propose instead the creation of 2 classes which would separate shops from financial and professional services and retain the requirement to obtain planning permission for a change of use from shop to office.

Class 2 Food and Drink

Our original proposals involved the creation of a use class embracing hot food shops, cafes, snack-bars and licensed premises. In their comments, however, a number of respondents expressed concern that licensed premises, particularly public houses, generate more severe environmental problems than cafes and snack bars and that this would lead to a significant reduction in residential amenity, particularly in areas of tenement housing. Moreover as a result of the neighbour notification procedures which we introduced the public are now more aware of planning applications for public houses than they would be in the case of applications for licences which are not as widely publicised in the locality. We have considered these comments carefully and have concluded that, in order to meet the concerns of the public on these points, we should exclude premises with a public house license from this use class.

Class 13. Dwellinghouses

Many who commented welcomed the idea of this class, but although we stressed in the consultation paper that the purpose of this class was to clarify the circumstances in which multiple occupancy constitutes development requiring planning permission and was not intended to deal with the social and other issues raised by multiple occupancy, much of the comment has none the less focused on these issues. In response therefore to the concern voiced about the possible weakening of controls over multiple occupancy as a result of the new use class, we intend to amend our proposals so that the class excludes flats and the threshold at which, in planning terms, a change of use from a dwellinghouse to multiple occupancy occurs, is reduced from six persons living together to five.

The Scottish Development Department is currently considering the outcome of a wide ranging consultation exercise on multiple occupancy. These changes to the planning use classes are not intended to pre-empt any action which may be taken as a result of that consultation exercise. If necessary we shall be ready to adjust the provisions of the use classes order to be consistent with other controls over multiple occupancy.

Other proposals in the consultation paper, a copy of which I have placed in the Library of the House, remain largely unchanged. The Scottish Development Department will issue guidance which will explain the operation of the order in more detail when it is brought into force.

Since, under the terms of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972, the revised use classes order does not require to be laid before Parliament for approval, my right hon. and learned Friend will now proceed to make the order comprising the revised use classes. An amendment to the Town and Country Planning (General Development) (Scotland) Order 1981 will also be required to implement certain of our proposals which my right hon. and learned Friend will lay before the House. It is our intention that the revised use classes order and associated general development order amendments will come into force early in 1989.