Previous Section Index Home Page

16 Feb 2006 : Column 2248W—continued


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidance (a) his Department and (b) the Planning Inspectorate has issued on planning policy on polytunnels. [46975]

Yvette Cooper: The Government's national planning policies on development in the countryside and on agricultural development, which includes horticulture, are set out in Planning Policy Statement 7, Sustainable Development in Rural Areas, published August 2004. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (including the Planning Inspectorate) has not issued any planning guidance specifically on the use of polytunnels.

The considerations in determining whether, in the first instance, horticultural polytunnels come within the scope of planning controls and, if so, whether they are permitted development under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, have not changed. Each case should be considered individually, in the light of the particular facts and circumstances pertaining.

Where the decision-taker, the local planning authority in the first instance, decides in any particular case that the erection and use of polytunnels constitutes development" and requires a specific planning permission, any planning application should be determined in accordance with relevant policies in an adopted development plan for the area, subject to any other material considerations.

Proposed Railway Bridge (Colindale)

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his Department's financial contribution to the proposed new railway bridge over Aerodrome Road, Colindale. [41222]

16 Feb 2006 : Column 2249W

Yvette Cooper: In the announcement on second round growth area funding of 24 August 2005 the London borough of Barnet was invited to submit a fully developed bid for up to £7 million for this project to replace two railway bridges over Aerodrome Road. This bid was received in December and is currently being considered. A formal announcement of the projects that will receive Government money will be made within the next few weeks.

Regional Assemblies

Keith Vaz: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the role of regional assemblies in England. [51149]

Yvette Cooper: The Government are committed to the development of fit-for-purpose regional institutions and to continue their clear policy to devolve and decentralise power to regions, where this adds value. This is integral to creating sustainable communities.

Regional assemblies are inclusive strategic bodies 'of the region' and bring together representatives from key sectors across the region, sub-region, major cities and city areas and the rural areas. They were designated under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 as the Regional Planning Body with responsibility for preparing the Regional Spatial Strategy, including the Regional Housing and Transport strategies on behalf of the relevant Secretary of State.

The Government have indicated they will give assemblies additional functions where they consider it appropriate. They have accepted the Barker recommendation that Regional Housing Boards and Regional Planning Bodies be merged and are currently considering responses from regional assemblies detailing how each would take on this new merged role.

Regional Housing Boards

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether regional housing boards will continue to operate from the Government Offices for the Regions. [51082]

Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has already announced merging regional housing and planning functions by passing responsibility for the work of the Regional Housing Boards from the Government Offices to the Regional Assemblies (and in London the Mayor), which in each region is already the Regional Planning Body. The ODPM is working to effect these new arrangements by September 2006.

Rent Increases

Mr. Purchase: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 31 January 2006, Official Report, column 429W, if he will publish the consultation paper setting out the arrangements for compensating housing authorities that keep average rent increases to 5 per cent. in both 2006–07 and 2007–08. [48949]

Yvette Cooper: The intention is to adjust the housing revenue account (HRA) in year for housing authorities who keep rent rises to below 5 per cent. The Office of the
16 Feb 2006 : Column 2250W
Deputy Prime Minister expects to publish a consultation paper shortly on the mechanisms for adjustment.

Rent Restructuring

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place in the Library the summary of responses to his Department's three year review of rent restructuring. [50544]

Yvette Cooper: A copy has been made available in the Libraries of both Houses.

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact of the introduction of greater differentials in rent for larger properties resulting from his Department's final housing revenue account subsidy determinations for 2006–07 on the income after housing costs of larger families. [50545]

Yvette Cooper: The introduction of greater differentials for five and six bedroom properties is intended to encourage landlords to provide more properties of this size, enabling more large households to move out of expensive, unsuitable and often overcrowded accommodation in the private rented sector.

No separate assessment was made as part of the annual housing revenue account subsidy determination exercise. Differentials were looked at as part of our wider policy assessment at the time of the three-year review of rent restructuring, when many respondents to the consultation welcomed the policy.

Rent Subsidy Rules

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what local authorities were granted a derogation from housing revenue account rent rebate subsidy limitation rules in 2005–06. [50546]

Yvette Cooper: There have been no applications for a derogation from rent rebate subsidy limitation in 2005–06.

Roadside Advertising

Ben Chapman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether his proposals to create a database of unauthorised roadside advertisement companies will include the sites on which they advertise. [50680]

Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will liaise with local planning authorities on the type of information to be contained in the database of companies prosecuted for illegally advertising or selling illegal advertising alongside motorways and trunk roads.

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the merits of Shropshire becoming a unitary authority. [49061]

Mr. Woolas: A consultation meeting was held on 7 February with stakeholders in Shropshire. No conclusions have been drawn.
16 Feb 2006 : Column 2251W


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate the Government have made of the number of squatters in empty local authority housing. [48060]

Yvette Cooper: Information on the number of squatters in empty local authority housing is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Supermarkets (Planning Permission)

Keith Vaz: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what account is taken of competition issues when planning permission is considered for new supermarket stores. [49672]

Yvette Cooper: Planning policy statement 6: planning for town centres (PPS6) sets out the Government's planning policy for town centres and main town centre uses, which include retail. Statements of the Government's planning policy should be taken into account by those responsible for the preparation of both regional and local planning policy documents. Planning policy statements are also considerations which may be material to decisions on individual planning applications.

The Government's key objective for town centres is to promote their vitality and viability and PPS6 sets out other Government objectives which need to be taken into account in the context of this key objective. One of these is directed at supporting an efficient, competitive and innovative retail sector. In planning for additional development local planning authorities are also advised to provide for consumer choice by ensuring that provision is made for a range of sites for shopping and other main town centres uses to meet the needs of the whole community.

But PPS6 makes it clear that it is not the role of the planning system to restrict competition, preserve existing commercial interests or to prevent innovation. Each application for planning permission must be determined on its merits having regard to the policies in the relevant development plan and to any other material considerations. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) have overall responsibility for competition issues.

Next Section Index Home Page