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

Supplementary memorandum by Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (NT 30(c))


  1.  DTLR submitted a memorandum to the Select Committee on 18 March 2002. This referred to the impending announcement of the outcome of Stage 1 of the Quinquennial Review of English Partnerships (EP). The review findings were expected to have relevance to the concerns raised by New Towns, their MPs and the Select Committee.

  2.  Originally respondents to the Sub-Committee were asked to comment on several specific points and we are now able to provide additional information relating to two of these:

    the consequences of English Partnerships' control of the land supply and its role in the planning system; and

    the effect of the transfer of assets and liabilities to local authorities.


  3.  As is normal for a Quinquennial Review the first stage of the EP Review examined the justification for the organisation and its functions on policy grounds. DTLR considered whether there was a continuing need for EPs' functions, and whether EP was the best placed body to exercise them.

  4.  Ministers announced the outcome of the first stage to Parliament on 20 March (copy of the PQ Answer attached at annex A). It was confirmed that the organisation will focus on brownfield regeneration, and on managing a national portfolio of strategic sites and demonstration projects. In order to achieve this EP will transfer their non-strategic Commission for New Towns landholdings to the most appropriate bodies, for example Local Authorities. EP will also progressively relinquish the use of their CNT planning powers.


  5.  The Department is now moving forward into second stage of the Review—this will consider the financial, management and organisational implications of stage one matters in detail. While DTLR will take the lead in the second stage of the review, it will do so in close consultation with EP, and also local authorities and others with an interest in the outcome.


  6.  The transfer of EP's non-strategic CNT assets to the most appropriate body, by a staged process may address concerns about the current control of land in New Towns. While it cannot be assumed that the land transfers will necessarily be to Local Authorities, once the transfer to the appropriate body is completed EP should no longer be perceived as the dominant player in land supply in New Towns. A key issue in stage two will be the definition of "strategic sites" and the identification of the sites which will be included in EP's national portfolio. DTLR will seek to define this more rigorously as part of Stage 2.

  7.  The Department will be examining the options for transfer of CNT assets and liabilities. Significant issues will include the likely impact of such transfers on public finances and, in the case of transfers to Local Authorities, the implications of the new local government finance regime.

  8.  EPs interests in New Towns are both land and non-land, for example clawback, covenants, rent and sub-soil ownership. Negotiations will take place with Local Authorities, and the aim will be that all of these will be covered in any transfer arrangements. Depending on the mix of land and non-land holdings in any area Local Authorities cannot assume they will receive a financial "windfall" from such transfers.

  9.  The Government has also accepted the review's recommendation that EP should progressively relinquish the use of its planning powers under the New Towns Act 1981 in the former New Town areas. This means that EP would instead seek consent from the local planning authority under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. EP may also be expected to contribute towards the infrastructure and services that the relevant planning authority believes to be necessary to facilitate the proposed development. This would be done through negotiating an agreement with the relevant local planning authority in the context of granting a planning consent. To a large extent this would replicate the provision of such facilities that EP would have provided in any case under the existing planning regime.

  10.  EP have 7(1) planning consents for some of the land they hold, but this would fall on transfer. The impact of this move will vary, and the procedures that follow will depend on ownership of the land. For example, in cases where local authorities take possession of, and wish to develop the land, the procedures to follow are contained in the Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1992. The general principle underlying these Regulations is that local authorities must make planning applications in the same way as any other person and must follow the same procedures as would apply to applications to others.

  11.  EP will retain its URA Compulsory Purchase Order powers, but this will have no direct impact on New Towns. (The CNT does not possess CPO powers.)

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 23 August 2002