Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 600-619)



  600. So it might not have Government's approval?
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) What I am saying is I agree with the content of the consultation paper.


  601. So what is there is all right. What is missing?
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) I do not want to make any suggestions as to what is missing. It seems to me to be very, very sensible, but I keep coming back to the issue: in relation to each individual tall building a case has got to be made out in accordance with the principles that apply in relation to—

Mrs Dunwoody

  602. Would it be helpful to publish the minutes of the meetings that you have with them, so we can judge which bits were left out?
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) I have not had any meetings about tall buildings.

  603. When you take their advice, do you think it would be a good idea if all of that advice was published?
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) All the advice they gave me about tall buildings?

  604. Yes, all the advice that they gave you. They are two advisory bodies for the price of one.
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) It would be sensible for there to be published all of the advice that they think is sensible.

  Mrs Dunwoody: No, no, no.


  605. Earlier this morning, we got from English Heritage, a view that they would like to have public meetings or, certainly, to publish the minutes of their meetings.
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) With whom?

  606. When they are making decisions to advise government. They suggested to us that it was government who was suggesting that it would be better if they continued to have their proceedings in secret.
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Are you talking about individual cases or are you talking about general guidance?

  607. English Heritage have their regular meetings and at those meetings they look at both general guidance and at individual cases. It seemed to the Committee that if those were transparent events in which the public knew what was going on, it would be helpful. We got the impression, I think, from Sir Neil that he liked the idea of it being in public, but told us that government ministers preferred to have it done in secret.
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) The note that has been passed to me says "DCMS".

  608. We have a seamless government, I understood. Joined up government.
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) We do, we do. All that Mr Ellis is saying to me is do not express your own view without making it clear that I would obviously have to consult with DCMS. In principle, we think it would be appropriate that guidance from English Heritage or CABE about individual buildings or about the generality should be published, as long as there is not too much of it.

Mrs Dunwoody

  609. As long as it is not too plain?
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) No, no, no, no.

  610. As long as we do not understand what they say, there is no problem.
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) As long as it does not lead to a lack of clarity.

  611. You, my Lord, may say whatever you like. I am endeavouring to work out what you are saying.
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) I hope I am making it clear what I say.


  612. You will have some further discussions with your colleagues?
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Indeed. In answer to your question, in principle I can see real value in publishing the advice given both by CABE and English Heritage, both in relation to specific cases and in relation to the generality of it.

  Mrs Dunwoody: That is very helpful, and Mr Ellis will tell you off when you get outside.


  613. We will look with interest to see how far you can persuade your ministerial colleagues.
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Could I write to you about that?

  Chairman: By all means.

Christine Russell

  614. Do you feel that land use and transport planning is sufficiently well-linked together? Do the planners talk enough to the highway engineers?
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) I am not sure that they do.

  615. Last week or, maybe, the week before, we were given evidence from London Underground, in particular, that seemed to question the actual capacity to cope with a huge influx of additional passengers arising from a new high-density tall building.
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) I am not sure that land use planners and transport planners do talk enough to each other. I think one of the goals of the green paper proposals is that, particularly in relation to transport but in relation to other aspects of policy as well, there should be a greater connection between land use and other strategies. That particularly applies to transport.

Chris Grayling

  616. When the department you are part of produced the 10-year plan for transport, was there a detailed internal discussion with those in the department involved in the planning and forecasting of planning to assess the impact of things like tall building developments on the likely future transport needs?
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) You keep treating tall buildings as a special sort of transport demand. On Christine's point about can transport cope with the new activity coming from a particular tall building, if there are, as it were, jobs and activity that required the same number of people—whether it not it is through a tall building or whether it is in some other way—that will have transport implications.

  617. Up to a point, except that if you put a couple of very substantial buildings in the City of London, you can add thousands of people to the daily flow in and out of the City of London, in a relatively small geographical area. That can have a massive impact on the transport infrastructure. The point of my question is to understand, when you did the planning work for the 10-year transport plan, did you as a department sit down and look and say "Okay, what are the likely increases in intense development in city centres as well as other trends" before you established what the priorities for the 10-year transport plan should be?
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) In preparing the 10-year plan, of course, the implications for it beyond transport were considered. I cannot tell you the extent to which there was a detailed consideration in each case of the planning implications, because on much of the 10-year plan there are still sites and detail to be worked out. It is at that stage that the planning implications would be considered.

  Chairman: Oona, since it is right on the edge of your constituency, do you want to come in on this?

Ms King

  618. I just want to ask if you envisage any high-density planning applications (which, obviously, could be tall buildings) which might have to be turned down because there is not adequate transport infrastructure to sustain those applications?
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Making it clear that I am not talking about any individual case, if the transport infrastructure was not adequate to meet whatever demand the tall buildings make, that would be a perfectly sensible reason for turning down the application.

  619. Is that not a bit of a problem? For example, London Underground are telling us that in 15 years' time the Central Line will still be overcrowded (it is over-crowded now and in 15 years' time it will just be very overcrowded). What are the implications for all the buildings, when basically the transport infrastructure is London Underground?
  (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) What is the implication for the growth of employment in various parts of London, in the light of what you have said? It is not just a question restricted to tall buildings. In relation to individual applications for tall buildings, transport infrastructure is a vital consideration to take into account. You know there is a public inquiry going on in relation to the Heron building. They have obviously got to consider those issues; the effect of the public inquiry is that they will be aired in detail there. I am being careful not to comment at all about it or to give any indication of what my view in relation to that should be, because of my role in the planning system.

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