§ Mr. David Porter
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are his plans for new regulations governing development by local planning authorities or on their land.
§ Sir George Young
New regulations to replace the Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1976, together with associated secondary legislation and policy guidance, are currently being prepared. My right hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales intend that the new arrangements should be in force by the end of June. Their main features will be—local planning authorities will continue to be able to grant themselves planning permission for development carried out by them, such as schools or local authority housing, and will also he able to grant themselves permission for development undertaken jointly with another person, such as a joint venture with a housing association;—for all other development proposals to be carried out on local authority-owned land by other parties, planning permission will have to be sought from the responsible development control authority. (Thus a county council which is, for example, seeking to dispose of land with planning permission will have to apply to a district council, unless the development is a "county matter" (minerals and waste in England; minerals in Wales); and the district council would have to apply to the county council for development which is a "county matter");—local planning authorities will now have to make a planning application to themselves or to another local planning authority and will be subject to broadly the same statutory procedures as other applicants;—applications must be publicised as prescribed by a development order in the same way as applications from the public;—to avoid a conflict of interest, applications may not be determined by a committee, sub-committee or officer responsible for the management of the land or buildings concerned;—planning permission granted to local planning authorities for development by them or jointly will not pass to subsequent owners of the land. For example, an authority will not be able to grant itself planning permission for council housing, then change its mind and sell the land with planning permission to a developer.
In addition,—a new direction will be made requiring the Secretary of State to be notified of all local planning authority development proposals which do not accord with the provisions of the development plan, giving him the opportunity (if he so decides) to call them in for his own decision;—an order will be made to prevent the public from being excluded from committee meetings at which local authority development proposals are discussed; and—a circular will be published explaining the new arrangements.
The Government believe that the new regulations will reconcilee appropriately local planning authorities' need to carry out their statutory functions with safeguards on accountability and publicity.
I am making this announcement in advance of the new arrangements taking effect, to allow local authorities time to take account of the changes and to modify their procedures accordingly.