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16 Feb 2006 : Column 2243W—continued

Negative Equity

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the total value of negative equity in homes in (a) England and (b) the North West in (i) 1996 and (ii) the most recent year for which figures are available. [46535]

Yvette Cooper: The information requested is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Oil Firing Technical Association

Graham Stringer: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) criteria and (b) benchmarks will be used in his review of the Oil Firing Technical Association. [48804]

Yvette Cooper: The Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) operates a competent person self-certification scheme for the installation of oil-fired combustion appliances and oil storage systems, authorised under the Building Act 1984. It is only this part of OFTEC's activities that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has powers to review.

Reviews of the performance of competent person schemes take place against schemes' conditions of authorisation: financial, managerial and technical ability to operate a scheme; assessment of competence of applicants to register with a scheme; periodic random monitoring of completed work to make sure it complies with the requirements of the Building Regulations; a robust system to deal fairly and speedily with complaints from customers; and certification of work to customers and the relevant local authority.

All competent person schemes, including OFTEC's are required to achieve UKAS accreditation under the conditions of authorisation. UKAS will then monitor schemes to make sure that the conditions of authorisation are being fulfilled and the scheme is delivering compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations.
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Oil-fired Central Heating

Graham Stringer: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will introduce regulations to require a Declaration of Safety Certificate after the installation of an oil fired heating system. [48760]

Yvette Cooper: Provisions for such certificates to be issued are already part of the Building Regulations 2000, as amended. Such certificates attest that the installation meets the safety standards in the Regulations. Where such installation work is notified to a building control body, that body will issue a completion certificate where the installation fully complies with all relevant requirements of the Building Regulations. Where the work is carried out by an installer registered with a competent person self-certification listed in Schedule 2A of the Building Regulations, that installer will give a compliance certificate to the occupier of the premises where the installation took place with a copy to the local authority.

Open Market Homebuy Option

Michael Gove: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many households the Government estimates will be covered by the Open Market Homebuy option by the end of the two-year pilot. [48901]

Yvette Cooper: Information on the number of households that will benefit from the Open Market Homebuy product from April 2006 is not yet available. The Government are providing subsidy for all the Homebuy products via the Housing Corporation's Affordable Housing programme. A decision on the overall programme is expected in March 2006, when the amount of subsidy for Open Market Homebuy will be confirmed.

From October 2006, Government funding will be enhanced by the private financing of equity loans from three lenders. This will enable us to help an additional 20,000 households into home ownership by 2010.


Dr. Kumar: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will estimate how many families in (a) England, (b) the Tees Valley and (c) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland are living in overcrowded conditions. [45109]

Yvette Cooper: There are two measures of overcrowding—the statutory definition and the bedroom standard.

Based on the bedroom standard, the number of overcrowded households in England during the three-year period 2002–03 to 2004–05 is estimated to have been 510,000.

Information on compliance with the statutory standard is not collected systematically but, in the autumn of 2001, an attempt was made to estimate the number of households living in conditions that breach these standards. Using data from the Survey of English Housing" for the period 1997–98 to 1999–2000 and from the 1996 English House Condition Survey" it was estimated that there were 25,000 households in England that were so overcrowded that the statutory standard was breached.
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Reliable estimates for the Tees Valley and for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland are not available.

Pheasant Shooting

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidance his Department has issued on the planning status of pheasant rearing units. [44206]

Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has not issued any specific guidance on the planning status of pheasant rearing units. The planning guidance for agriculture, for England, is contained in Planning Policy Guidance Note 7: Rural Areas".


Keith Vaz: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many planning applications have been processed in (a) Leicester and (b) England in each year between 1997 and 2005; and how many were heard by committees of local planning authorities. [50444]

Yvette Cooper: Following are the figures for Leicester and England. The Statistics of Planning Applications, October to December 2005" is due to be published on 31 March 2006 and will appear on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister web pages under planning statistics".
Decisions in LeicesterDecisions not delegated to officers(22)Decisions in EnglandDecisions not delegated to officers(22)

(22) Since April 1997 statistics have been collected on decisions delegated to officers without reference to councillors under a scheme of delegation. 'Undelegated' decisions therefore includes decisions taken by chairmen or sub-committees, as well as those by the entire planning committee

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to pool Planning Delivery Grant funding into local area agreements. [51075]

Mr. Woolas: Planning Delivery Grant is not ring fenced, and may be included by local authorities in their local area agreement pooling arrangements.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will be consulting on reforms to the Planning Delivery Grant as part of a wider package of incentives for housing and planning during this year. This will involve consultation on mechanisms for delivery and how the grant might be distributed.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidance his Department has issued on the account which should be taken of special protection area status in assessing planning applications; and if he will make a statement. [49823]

Yvette Cooper: In August 2005 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) issued a joint Government circular: Biodiversity and
16 Feb 2006 : Column 2246W
Geological Conservation—Statutory obligations and their impact within the planning system" (ODPM 06/2005, Defra 01/2005). The circular provides administrative guidance on the application of the law relating to planning and nature conservation as it applies in England. It covers the requirements of the EC Habitats Regulations 1994 in respect of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated under the EC Birds Directive .

Planning Policy Statement 9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation" was published at the same time. It advises planning authorities that, in taking planning decisions affecting sites of international importance, such as SPAs, they should ensure that appropriate weight is given to their status.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what obligations local planning authorities have to consult English Nature in relation to planning applications in a special protection area. [49824]

Yvette Cooper: A planning authority is required, under the General Development Procedure Order 1995, to consult English Nature before granting planning permission within or which is likely to affect a site of special scientific interest (SSSI). All special protection areas (SPAs) on land above the mean (tidal) low water mark are also SSSIs and are thus covered by this requirement to consult. The planning regime does not extend below the low water mark.

Anne Milton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many planning decisions made by (a) Guildford and (b) Waverley borough councils were (i) referred to and (ii) overturned by the Planning Inspectorate in each of the past five years. [48710]

Yvette Cooper: The table shows the total number of planning appeals, in the areas of Guildford and Waverley borough councils, determined by the Planning Inspectorate for the calendar years 2001 to 2005 together with the number allowed and percentage of appeals allowed.
Total decided826811091136
Total allowed2829322840
Percentage allowed3443293129
Total decided8788145157184
Total allowed3834416171
Percentage allowed4439283939

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the national targets are for the Planning Inspectorate; and what the performance of offices covering Torbay are in relation to those targets. [46613]

Yvette Cooper: The Planning Inspectorates targets for 2006–06 (revised December 2005) are:

Timeliness—cases determined by the written representations method

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Timeliness—cases determined by the hearings method

Timeliness—cases determined by the inquiry method

16 Feb 2006 : Column 2248W

Timeliness—development plans



Performance in Torbay against planning appeals target

ProcedurePercentage in targetNumber of appealsPercentage in targetNumber of appealsPercentage in targetNumber of appeals
Written representations78.67759.888137.2959
Local inquiry100.0010.001(23)

(23) No appeals were decided.

Performance in Torbay for enforcement appeals

ProcedurePercentage in targetNumber of appealsPercentage in targetNumber of appealsPercentage in targetNumber of appeals
Written Representations100.001100.001100.002
Local inquiry100.001(24)(24)

(24) No appeals were decided.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place in the Library of the House a copy of the national planning guidance relating to housing that was in force before the publication of Planning Policy Guidance 3 in 2000. [48056]

Yvette Cooper: A copy of the Planning Policy Guidance Note 3: Housing" published in March 1992 has been made available in the Library of the House.

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