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Automated Valuation Model

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the datasets that are part of the automated valuation model. [49149]

Mr. Woolas: The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has a single dataset, which is used to provide input to, but is independent of, the automated valuation model (AVM).

Council Tax

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the Answer of 9 January 2006, Official Report, column 250W, on council tax, what the (a) OASIS and (b) Tenet products are; and if he will outline their use for council tax valuations. [47018]

Mr. Woolas: 'OASIS' is the trade name of the valuation modelling software provided by Cole Layer Trumble to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). 'Tenet' is the name used by the VOA for the enhancements to the base digital mapping software supplied by Tenet IT Mapping Limited. Neither 'Tenet' nor OASIS is used for council tax valuation purposes following the postponement of the 2007 council tax revaluation announced by the Minister for Communities and Local Government on 20 September 2005.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) of 24 January 2006, Official Report, column 2060W, on council tax regulations, what recommendation was made to amend regulation 3 of the Council Tax (Chargeable Dwellings) Order. [50962]

Mr. Woolas: The proposals for changes to council tax regulations referred to in the minutes of Valuation Office Agency Local Authorities Liaison Group meeting of 27 September 2004 relate to discussions by officials of the Valuation Office Agency with officials of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister about amending article 3
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of the Council Tax (Chargeable Dwellings) Order 1992 to preclude disaggregation where the whole of a single hereditament is occupied as the sole or main residence of a person. The Government have no current plans to amend this regulation.

Habitat Regulations

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent advice he has given to local planning authorities on ensuring that regional and city plans are properly assessed before they are adopted, with particular reference to the Habitat regulations. [64042]

Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister sent a letter to all regional planning bodies (RPBs) and local planning authorities (LPAs) on the 9 March 2006 1 . It advised RPBs and LPAs of their responsibilities under the Habitats directive 92/43/EEC to carry out an appropriate assessment (AA) on their plans, and provided guidance on its application in the interim period before the amendments to the UK Conservation (Habitats &c) Regulations, 1994 (Habitats Regulations) come into force this September. The letter also referred RPBs and LPAs to existing guidance produced by the European Commission 2 . The ODPM will also issue draft guidance on the application of AA to land use plans for consultation this summer.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many physical inspections of composite hereditaments were carried out by the Valuation Agency for (a) business rates and (b) council tax (i) valuation and (ii) liability purposes in each year since 1996–97. [47024]

Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member on 20 January 2006, Official Report, column 1699W. Liability is a matter for billing authorities, not for the Valuation Office Agency.

Liveability Fund

Jonathan Shaw: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what information Medway council has provided to his Department on grants awarded under the liveability fund; and if he will make a statement. [63674]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 18 April 2006]: Medway council was one of 27 areas that benefited from the liveability fund, improving local authority service delivery before investing in public space developments. Areas such as the Weedswood Estate in Chatham have seen physical and social improvements, while the Street Guardian scheme will ensure their continued improvement, keeping them cleaner, safer and greener.

In line with all recipients of the fund, Medway council confirmed completion of milestones set out in the grant agreement. Further information and lessons from the
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liveability fund in Medway are being shared through a good practice programme run by the Improvement and Development Agency.

Local Government Finance

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of the Valuation Office Agency's How2 toolkit for council tax valuation and appeal work. [47885]

Mr. Woolas: This guidance is held in linked electronic formats within the Valuation Office Agency's main IT systems and can only be viewed with full functionality through the appropriate software package. To provide a copy in the Library could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Mobile Telephone Masts

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden of 20 January 2006, Official Report, column 1693W, on mobile telephone masts, how many communication stations were registered for business rates in England in each local authority area in 1998. [50956]

Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Meriden on 20 December 2005, Official Report, column 2836W.

Needs Assessments (Young People)

Mr. Love: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what arrangements are in place to ensure that local authorities assess the needs of young people between the ages of 15 to 18 who are leaving care or prison with no financial or family support; and if he will make a statement. [64110]

Maria Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 requires local authorities to assess the needs of care leavers and to draw up a pathway plan for each individual setting out the services and support that they will receive to manage the move to an appropriate level of independence. Each care leaver is entitled to support from a personal adviser who will coordinate the provisions of the pathway plan and keep this under review. Up until the age of eighteen, the local authority will usually be a care leaver's primary source of income. Once care leavers reach 18, they are then entitled to have access to the same mainstream arrangements for obtaining financial help as other young people.

Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) are responsible for resettlement planning for young people who have been made subjects of a custodial sentence, following their cases from pre-sentence stage through custody and into the community. Crucially this involves linking young people to mainstream local services who can to respond to their ongoing needs for accommodation, education, health and other support during and following the end of the period of YOT intervention.
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Planning Applications

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to publish the (a) criteria and (b) guidance on sequential development tests for planning applications for large warehouse complexes, with particular reference to the South East of England; and if he will make a statement. [64780]

Yvette Cooper: The Deputy Prime Minister currently has no plans to publish any specific criteria or guidance on sequential development tests for planning applications for large warehouse complexes. National planning policy for this type of development is contained in planning policy statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development (PPS1), planning policy guidance note 4: Industrial and Commercial Development and Small Firms (PPG4), and planning policy guidance note 13: Transport (PPG13). While there is no specific sequential development test for large warehouse complexes, existing planning policy is clear as to the types of location that may be suitable.

PPS1 asks local planning authorities to recognise that in achieving sustainable development they should ensure that suitable locations are available for commercial development, having regard to considerations such as the level of transport accessibility and infrastructure provision.

PPG4 promotes new development in locations which minimise the length and number of trips and which can be served by more energy efficient modes of transport. It also advises that well-planned distribution parks away from urban areas can offer economies of scale, with benefits to business and consumers, and wherever possible should be capable of access by rail or water.

PPG13 requires that sustainable transport choices are promoted for the movement of freight, and it seeks a reduction in the need to travel. It asks for suitable sites which allow road to rail or water transfer of freight to be identified and protected where appropriate. The policy also specifically asks that warehousing which generates substantial freight movements to be located away from congested and residential areas, ensuring adequate access to trunk roads.

To assist planning authorities to make sufficient provision for such development in their plans, we have published guidance on undertaking employment land reviews at both regional and local level ('Employment Land Reviews: Guidance Note' ODPM, 2004).

Regional planning policy for the location of development is set out in the regional planning guidance for the South East (RPG9, 2001), which is the regional spatial strategy for South East England. The strategy is currently under review and the South East England regional assembly has formally submitted the draft South East plan to the Government for consideration. A consultation on the draft plan will run from 31 March 2006 to 23 June 2006.

Once the South East plan has been finalised, following independent testing, it will be published by the Government as a replacement of RPG9. Local authority development plans, and development proposals will need to conform to the South East plan. The South East
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plan, and the local authority development plans in that region will collectively form the statutory development plan for the South East.

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