HC Deb 25 February 1999 vol 326 c407W
Ms Perham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress he is making in reviewing the current heritage notification arrangements in London. [73593]

Mr. Raynsford

My hon. Friend the Minister for the Arts and I have today issued a consultation paper proposing a number of changes in the current handling of listing building consent applications in London. Since the abolition of the Greater London Council, English Heritage has been working with the London Boroughs to build up their expertise in handling these applications. As a result, we now feel able to propose a significant reduction in the number which will in future need to be notified to English Heritage. This will enable decisions to be issued more quickly. However, certain changes, for example those to Grade I and II* buildings, will still need to be sent to English Heritage. Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

This consultation is the first stage in a wider review of heritage notifications promised in the Modernising Planning policy statement by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning in January 1998 as one of a range of initiatives being taken to improve the effectiveness of local authority planning services. My officials are now talking to English Heritage about the notification arrangements outside London with a view to drawing up further consultation proposals for speeding up this aspect of the planning process.