HL Deb 09 May 1991 vol 528 cc53-4WA
Lord Brougham and Vaux

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will introduce compulsory notification and publicity for all planning applications submitted to local authorities.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment (Baroness Blatch)

At present, applicants for planning permission in Scotland are statutorily required to notify neighbours. In England and Wales, by contrast, publicity for most types of planning application is at the discretion of the local planning authority; advice about this is given in the Department of the Environment's Circular 22/88 (Welsh Office 44/88).

In the past, the Government have resisted proposals from this House and elsewhere that there should be compulsory neighbour notification arrangements in England and Wales. We have argued that the present largely discretionary arrangements are appropriate, given the wide variety of situations in which development proposals arise, and that a statutory requirement to notify neighbours would be a burden on local authorities and applicants.

It has recently come to light that in fact some 75 per cent. of local authorities in England now give some type of publicity to all planning applications. The wide use of computers in local authority planning departments makes this practice less onerous than it would once have been.

Accordingly, the Government have decided that all planning applications in England and Wales, and any subsequent non-trivial amendments to applications, should be given some publicity. We will give effect to this by amending the Town and Country Planning General Development Order 1988, when we have considered the outcome of a public consultation exercise about the methods for achieving this objective. (For example, in particular situations site notices, media announcements and other public notices may be no less effective than neighbour notification). The Department of the Environment and the Welsh Office will publish by the end of June a consultation paper inviting the views of a wide range of organisations, including local authority and consumer interests. We would then make an amendment to the general development order which could come into effect later this year.

There is already a statutory requirement that owners of land and tenants of agricultural holdings must be notified by applicants for planning permission of planning applications affecting their land. Clause 15 of the Planning and Compensation Bill provides for transferring to secondary legislation many of the detailed procedures which have to be followed. This will make it easier to streamline and reform those procedures. But the Government propose to retain in primary legislation a requirement that owners and agricultural tenants must be notified of planning applications affecting their land. We will table an amendment to the Bill to give effect to this commitment at Report stage in another place.