Examination of Witness (Questions 500-516)|
QC AND MS
WEDNESDAY 14 NOVEMBER 2001
500. What will happen to a local authority if
it does not do this?
(Ms Keeble) I get the assumption that local authorities
are not going to act in the best interests of their communities,
which I have to say I would not accept. Whilst some might fail
for a number of reasons to provide the kind of plans we have been
talking about, I would not accept that they would wilfully go
against the interests of their own community actually. I think,
also, that the higher profile and the more emphasis that is given
nationally on these issues then the more encouragement there is
for them to improve their provision.
501. Just coming on to the issue of various
national bodies, I think we were quite surprised to hear witnesses
tell us that bodies like Sport England and the Urban Green Space's
Task Force had not been consulted about this draft guidance.
(Ms Keeble) I would not say that is true, actually.
502. The witnesses told us it is true.
(Ms Keeble) The Task Force is going to look at the
503. It has not been consulted yet.
(Ms Keeble) There have been some difficulties previously
prior to last year
504. What you are saying is that there are new
people driving the process forward.
(Ms Keeble) Thank you. It is being looked at now,
it is going to be dealt with by one of the working groups and
there are active discussions between the department and Sport
England. Sport England is represented on the working group of
the Task Force which is looking at PPG 17. Sport England is also
going to be represented now on the Task Force itself, and I know
there have been discussions between the department and Sport England
about the PPG because I have been involved in them. So it is the
case that there are discussions going on. They are all joined
505. Many of the issues that have been raised
are detailed, obviously. What Sport England would like is for
the level at which they have to be consulted on planning applications,
such as the size of the pitches, to be reduced to 0.2 hectares.
You are saying your officials will sit down with their officials
and go through these sorts of issues and try and get some agreement
(Ms Keeble) There is discussion. Sport England is
represented on the Task Forceboth on the working group
looking at PPG 17 and on the Task Force itself. Sport England
is also talking to officials actively about the PPG and about
some of the wording and some of the emphasis. The issue about
the size of the spaces is obviously going to be a difficult one
to decide. What I will just say is that in terms of the Task Force
one of the issues that we are looking at is the issue of smaller
spaces, as you might have gathered, and I think if we are looking
at smaller spaces we have to look at smaller spaces in terms of
play as well as smaller spaces in terms of sport and see what
is appropriate for protection of smaller spacesbe they
used for sport or for different types of activity.
506. A fairly small point, but we did take evidence
in the last Parliament about the problem of travelling fairs.
Nothing is really said in PPG 17 about that but there is the issue
about them being able to use public spaces, particularly traditional
spaces in towns for the fairs themselves, and there is the problem
of winter quarters. Would it not have been helpful if PPG 17 had
at least said a little bit about it? You are suggesting that different
people were drawing up PPG 17 initially, but one of them did give
us a promise in this Committee that something would be said in
(Ms Keeble) That promise has been kept. It is page
14, paragraph 2.
507. Can you tell me what it says?
(Ms Keeble) "As a community resource, as a place
for congregating, for holding community events or periodic activities
such as fetes and travelling fairs".
Mrs Dunwoody: Gosh, that is strong. Nobody is
going to ignore that.
508. That involves the open space being used
for the travelling fair, but what about winter quarters?
(Ms Keeble) We have not got winter quarters. I take
that point. I would, also, I think, take the inference that you
might feel that reference could be strengthened.
Mrs Dunwoody: Ever so slightly. It might have,
perhaps, a whole sentence to itself.
509. It could not really be weaker. Brieflyand
this is a big issueis PPG 17 really consistent with PPG
2 on the Green Belt?
(Ms Keeble) I am sure it is. I was thinking about
the actual policies. Were you concerned about a particular aspect?
510. If I could help you out, yes. Particularly
taking a conurbation like Greater Manchester, there are some very
attractive green lungs (?) which are now green belt, but there
is always pressure for finding new facilities for sports facilities.
If you have put some sport facilities on to those they would stay
green in their nature but if you put up some other sports facilities
on to them they would really be much more like a built environment.
Is there a conflict?
(Ms Keeble) Yes, there is an issue about provision
of stadia and built facilities. There is also an issue which has
come up, particularly in relation to the green belt, which is
about floodlighting as well.
511. There is floodlighting, all-weather pitches
as well as stadia.
(Ms Keeble) We have argued in this that the decisions
around built stadium and about floodlighting are, in particular,
the issues about resolving conflict over use of land, and that
is, in particular, what the planning process is intended to achievein
particular the planning control process. So we would argue that
there is not inconsistency between the two guidance notes, that
it is precisely those types of conflicts which they are intended
Sir Paul Beresford
512. Does it matter that there is this conflict?
Do you want to leave it so that local authorities can assess
(Ms Keeble) They have to have tools to
be able to resolve conflict over the use of space.
513. It is called local government, they are
going to make a decision.
(Ms Keeble) That is right. What we have given them
is a tool to resolve those particular conflicts, but that is what
the decision-making at local level is designed to achieve.
514. So it does not matter.
(Ms Keeble) The planning process and making planning
decisions is entirely about resolving, often, conflicting views
about how particular areas of land should be used.
515. It should give the developers, and others
in the community, certainty.
(Ms Keeble) Yes, but there will still be sharp conflicts
about the use of space. Part of the whole debate about this PPG
has been about the use of green space and whether it should be
used for sports facilities or whether it should be used for play
areas and such like. That is one of the issues why the debate
around this PPG has been quite sharp. In terms of the green belt
and the protection of it, there is no inconsistency between the
guidance here and the green belt policy.
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) The green belt guidance
document, PPG 2, does says it is not inappropriate on the green
belt to build essential facilities for sport and recreation, and
that point is echoed in PPG 17. So the draft of PPG 17 is simply
trying to pick up what the green belt PPG says as well.
(Ms Keeble) If I can just add, there is also some
very tough guidance in here about the assessments that should
be made about locations of stadium, even in green field let alone
green belt areas, and that it should not have the enabling development
if that can be placed elsewhere, despite the pressures of financial
support. So it is quite tough on the location of built stadiums.
516. So I gather there are going to be quite
a few changes between the draft and the final version?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) There certainly are, yes.
Chairman: On that note, can I thank you very
much for your evidence.
1 Note by Sir Paul Beresford: their local situation
and be allowed to make a local decision. Back