§ Mr. David Nicholson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what powers local authorities have to impose(a) an operational tie and (b) other restrictions on occupancy where these did not exist previously; what changes have been made in these powers since 1987; and what representations he has received on this subject in the context of the forthcoming rural White Paper. 
§ Mr. Robert B. Jones
Section 70 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 enables the local planning authority to impose conditions on the grant of planning permission—similar powers were contained in the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 which preceded this legislation. Our policy on planning conditions is contained in Department of the Environment circular 1/85—Welsh Office 1/85. Among other things, this makes it clear that conditions should be imposed only where they are necessary, relevant to planning, relevant to the development to be permitted, precise, and reasonable in all other respects.
Additional guidance on the use of conditions in respect of agricultural and forestry dwellings is contained in annex E to planning policy guidance note 7: "The Countryside and the Rural Economy". This explains that when granting permission for a new agricultural dwelling, local planning authorities may impose an occupancy condition not only on the dwelling itself but on any existing dwellings on the unit which are under the control of the applicant, do not have occupancy conditions, and need at the time of the application to be used in connection with the farm. Such a condition may help to protect the countryside against the risk of pressure for new houses.
A number of responses to the rural White Paper have included comments on restrictions on occupancy.