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20 Jan 2006 : Column 1688W—continued

Council Tax Revaluation

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list representations the Government have received from retailers, including DIY stores, in relation to the council tax revaluation in the last two years. [42611]

Mr. Woolas: Two representations have been identified from retailers, both from B&Q plc, received by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in relation to council tax revaluation in the last two years.

Design for Manufacture Competition

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the location of each site in the Design for Manufacture competition, and the estimated number of (a) commercial and (b) affordable households to be constructed at each site in relation to the competition. [17446]


 
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Yvette Cooper [pursuant to the reply, 18 October 2005, Official Report, c. 876W]: I regret that the answer contained incorrect information in relation to the number of affordable dwellings that are anticipated to be built at the former Rowan High School site in the London borough of Merton as a result of the Design for Manufacture competition. The correct answer to the question should be as follows.

There is no significant commercial property to be developed on the 10 Design for Manufacture Competition sites, other than incidental corner shops and community facilities that will be subject to detailed planning approval. These will be detailed during the next stage as the proposals for each individual site go through the planning process.

The number of homes on each site is as follows:

Fire Alarms

Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with fire authorities about the provision of fire alarms in (a) park home properties, (b) residential homes and (c) homes in multiple occupation; and if he will make a statement. [42907]

Jim Fitzpatrick: There has been wide ranging consultation with relevant stakeholders, including fire and rescue authorities, on fire safety in park homes, residential care homes, and houses in multiple occupation. Formal consultation has taken place on the Housing Health and Safety Rating System which covers fire hazards in all dwellings, and requirements on fire safety in licensed houses in multiple occupation under the Housing Act 2004. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has also consulted extensively on the Fire Safety Order 2005 and forthcoming guidance, which covers the common areas in which park homes are located, residential care homes, and the common parts of houses in multiple occupation. There has been similar consultation on the proposed revision to Approved Document B (Fire Safety) to the Building Regulations which covers all new buildings and material alterations to existing buildings.
 
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Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of the premises occupied by his Department is fitted with audible fire alarms. [42883]

Jim Fitzpatrick: With the exception of the Fire Experimental Unit Still-Air Testing Facility at Little Rissington, where such a system would be inappropriate, all of the premises occupied by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are fitted with audible fire alarms.

This answer does not include buildings occupied by Government Offices, who carry out functions on behalf of 10 Government Departments.

Fuel Storage Depots

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what guidelines exist for the siting of fuel storage depots near residential areas; [42789]

(2) what the minimum distance required is between fuel storage depots and housing; [42790]

(3) which Government agency is responsible for ensuring that fuel storage depots are operated and maintained safely. [42791]

Yvette Cooper: Decisions on proposals for development are taken by a local planning authority in accordance with its development plan. Essentially, this comprises the regional spatial strategy prepared by the regional planning body and local development documents prepared by the local planning authority.

The Town and Country Planning (Regional Planning) (England) Regulations 2004 (SI No 2203) and the Town and Country Planning (Local Development) (England) Regulations 2004 (SI No 2204) specify the form and content of regional spatial strategies and development plan documents. These make clear that in preparing their plans the planning bodies are required to have regard to the objectives of preventing major accidents and of limiting the consequences of such accidents; and to have regard to the need, in the long term, to maintain appropriate distances between establishments where dangerous substances are present and residential areas.

Guidance issued in Planning Policy Statement 12 on Local Development Frameworks makes clear that, in preparing or reviewing local development documents, local planning authorities need to ensure that they include a policy or policies relating to the location of establishments where hazardous substances are used or stored, and to the development of land within the vicinity of establishments where hazardous substances are present.

Article 10 of The Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995 requires local planning authorities to consult with the Health and Safety Executive when residential development is proposed within an area that has been notified to the local planning authority by the Health and Safety Executive because of the presence of hazardous substances within the vicinity. They must also consult with the Health and Safety Executive about development involving the siting of new establishments where hazardous substances will be present.
 
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There is no specified minimum distance that has to be maintained between a fuel storage depot and housing. The decision on whether any proposed development should be permitted to take place within the vicinity of a fuel storage depot is a matter for the local planning authority, taking advice from the Health and Safety Executive on the suitability of the development with regard to the potential off-site risk so that those risks can be given due weight when balanced against other relevant planning considerations.

Primary responsibility for the safe operation and maintenance of fuel storage depots rests with those who operate the site. The relevant regulatory agency for such operators and sites will depend on the quantity of fuel stored. The Health and Safety and the relevant Environment Agency together form a joint competent authority for such regulation at large scale fuel storage depots within the scope of the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 1999. For smaller sites not covered by COMAH, Health and Safety Executive is the relevant regulator.

High Hedges

Lynne Jones: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidance he has issued on the circumstances in which (a) Leyland cypress and (b) other evergreen species may be reduced by more than one-third under high hedges legislation; and if he will make a statement. [42774]

Yvette Cooper: The circumstances in which Leyland cypress and other evergreen species may be reduced by more than one-third will vary according to species, and also depends on the age and health of the trees or shrubs in question and how they have been maintained in the past. As a result, the guidance issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in relation to the high hedges legislation advises local authorities to obtain arboricultural advice when specifying action to be taken in relation to the hedge in order to remedy any adverse effect that it is causing.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will issue guidance to local authorities to clarify (a) how far a hedge can be reduced before it is destroyed and (b) that the example of reducing a hedge by one-third is not a stipulation that only one-third of a hedge can safely be trimmed. [42776]

Yvette Cooper: Guidance on how far a hedge can be reduced before it is destroyed is available on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website under "Frequently Asked Questions on High Hedges" at: www.odpm.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1127837#P155_26271. It indicates these are matters of professional judgment, to be made in the light of the particular circumstances.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will shortly be expanding the "Frequently Asked Questions on High Hedges" to clarify that the guidance document "High Hedges Complaints: Prevention and Cure" does not stipulate that only one-third of a hedge can be safely trimmed.


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