HL Deb 29 November 2004 vol 667 cc13-4WS
The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker)

My right honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Planning has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Following the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's review of the planning enforcement system in England we took the opportunity to introduce a new enforcement power—the temporary stop notice—in the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act. There was overwhelming support for the introduction of these new provisions from local authorities. I am today announcing a period of consultation with a view to commencing these new powers in spring 2005.

Temporary stop notices provide a new power to local planning authorities and the means to prevent unauthorised development at an early stage without first having to issue an enforcement notice.

The temporary stop notice provides the local authority with a discretionary power to stop a breach of planning control for a limited period to enable it to decide whether further enforcement is appropriate and what action should be taken.

The Act provides that temporary stop notices may not be used against dwelling houses. During the passage of the Bill the issue of the treatment of caravans was raised. The Government responded that they would introduce regulations that would mirror the exemption for buildings.

The draft regulations set out the circumstances in which temporary stop notices may not be used. The temporary stop notice may not be used against caravans which are occupied as a sole or main residence on site and their immediate removal will not be required until any follow-up enforcement action is taken. Any further associated works will be subject to the temporary stop notice.

However, in circumstances where the effect of allowing the caravans to remain on the site for even a limited period would cause serious harm to the local amenity that would outweigh the benefit to the occupiers of the caravans, a temporary stop notice can be used immediately. This approach strikes an appropriate balance between the needs of Gypsies and Travellers and rights of local authorities to take action against unauthorised development in those particular circumstances where this is causing serious and immediate harm.