HC Deb 25 July 1990 vol 177 cc371-2W
Mr. David Porter

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will make a statement about the future of local authority road schemes, where county councils have no deemed planning consent powers;

(2) if he will make a statement on arrangements for county councils to fulfil their statutory waste disposal functions where they have no deemed planning consent facility;

(3) if he will make a statement about the arrangements for the emergency provision of temporary classrooms, where county councils have no deemed planning consent powers;

(4) what plans he has for deemed planning consent powers for both district and county councils; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Michael Spicer

[holding answer 16 July 1990]: I announced on 7 February, in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen) (Official Report, Vol. 166, column 638) that I had issued a consultation paper seeking views on proposals to amend the Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1976. Among the proposed changes was that councils should in future be required to apply for planning permission like any other applicant, for any development where they were not the responsible development control authority. Under this proposal, county councils would, for example, have been required to seek planning permission from district councils for road schemes and to provide temporary classrooms, although not for waste disposal development because for that the county council is the responsible local planning authority.

The consultation paper, "Local Authorities' Deemed Planning Permission" provoked 275 responses of which 70 per cent. were broadly in favour of the Government's proposals. The proposal to require county councils to seek planning permission from district councils was criticised for its unfairness to county councils and the difficulties they would have fulfilling their statutory functions.

The Government have considered carefully these criticisms, and we have decided to implement modified proposals as follows. In the case of local authorities' own development, whether on their own land or elsewhere, the present arrangements for deemed permission will continue, subject to three specific safeguards. We shall require such a proposal to be fully advertised; to be determined in public by a committee not responsible for managing or disposing of land or buildings owned by the authority; and, if the development proposal conflicts with the development plan, we shall require it to be reported to my right hon. Friend or to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales to enable them to consider calling in the proposal for their own decision.

These safeguards will also apply to development proposals by other parties on land owned by local authorities, but for these proposals we shall in future require planning permission to be sought from the responsible local planning authority; we shall make appropriate similar arrangements for national park special boards and planning committees.

Only the last of these proposals requires primary legislation, for which an early opportunity will be sought. We intend to achieve the remaining proposals by means of secondary legislation.

The Government believe that these modified proposals represent a useful reform that will increase the accountability of local authorities when deeming themselves planning permission and will enable their probity to be publicly demonstrated.

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