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Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent representations she has received from professional bodies regarding design quality and energy efficiency in building standards; and if she will make a statement. 
On design quality standards Government have an ongoing dialogue with a range of professional bodies, either directly or through the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. Recently, we have not received any specific representations from specific professional bodies regarding design quality. The most recent was the March 2005 publication of the Royal Institute of
British Architects Manifesto for Architecture (http://www.riba.org/go/RIBA/News/Policy_4440.html). However, this was not specific to Government, but aimed at a wider audience.
On energy efficiency standards we are currently engaging a range of stakeholders in discussions around further reform of building regulations. During the period 2003 to 2005 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister consulted widely on proposals for raising energy efficiency standards in line with commitments made in the Energy White Paper. These consultations supported improvements in energy efficiency standards through an amendment of the Building Regulations that came into effect on 6 April 2006. I am aware that construction industry professional bodies have been active in disseminating the changes introduced.
Mr. Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to include representatives of carers on the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights. 
Meg Munn: The new Commission for Equality and Human Rights will be an independent body, with a minimum of 10 and up to 15 Commissioners. The Commissioners will have to have a demonstrable commitment to, and understanding of, the wider context of the equalities, human rights and good relations agendas. They will need to deal authoritatively with issues of equality that affect different people in different ways, depending on their circumstances.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons the hon. Member for North Down has not received a response to her letter dated 10 February in relation to the Firefighters Pension Scheme. 
Mr. Woolas: The hon. Members letter was transferred to the Northern Ireland Office as it concerned matters which were for that Department. Officials of the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister wrote to the hon. Member on 28 February advising her of the transfer.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 20 June 2006, Official Report, column 1746W, on departmental staff, if she will place in the Library a copy of her Departments Training Framework Agreement; and what the names are of the suppliers covered by the agreement. 
AKT Productions Ltd.
Alpha Consolidated Training Ltd.
ASK Europe plc
Atkins Centre for Corporate Learning
Capita Learning and Development
National School of Government (formerly CMPS)
Communicaid Public Sector
Epic Group (including The Development Partnership)
The Faraday Partnership
LMDLearning Materials Design
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 20 June 2006, Official Report, column 1746W, on departmental staff, if she will place in the Library print outs from her departmental intranet of all the Skills for Life pages and links. 
Yvette Cooper: The Government believe good design is essential in creating and maintaining quality places where people want to live and work, now and in the future. Through a range of different interventions we aim to create better, more liveable places through promoting more informed attention to design, the quality of which makes the difference in creating places that will stand the test of time.
The Office of Government Commerce is an independent office of the Treasury which works with public sector organisations to help them improve their efficiency, gain better value for money from their commercial activities and deliver improved success from programmes and projects. Ministers have agreed minimum procurement standards (www.ogc.gov.uk/embedded_object.asp?docid=l004956) that are mandatory across central Government. These standards include that all clients should aim to deliver design excellence in accordance with the principles set out in Achieving Excellence 9: Design Quality (OGC, 2004).
Developing policy and raising design standards of buildings and places. DCLG non-departmental public bodies, English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation, have both set out design quality standards that are requirements for projects that they fund.
Encouraging innovation in buildings and the management of the public realm, through programmes and projects such as the Millennium Communities and the £60,000 home competition that are setting new benchmarks.
Promoting and championing understanding and take-up of good practice, sharing experience and improving design skills, though funding to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and the Academy for Sustainable Communities to support work on the ground.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what draft Bills have been produced by her Department since October 2005; how many (a) were examined and (b) are planned to be examined by (i) a Departmental Select Committee and (ii) a Joint Committee; what draft Bills are still to be produced by her Department; when each is expected to be published; how many clauses each has; and if she will make a statement. 
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many properties formerly owned by local authorities are privately let; and what information she has collated on the (a) rents charged for such properties and (b) rent levels for similar council-owned properties in 2005-06. 
Yvette Cooper: The Department for Communities and Local Government takes a broad definition of green infrastructure and through the Growth Area Fund supports improvements to parks and open spaces, improved access between the urban and rural fringe, and habitat creation and protection projects.
The Government believe that communities are more successful and enjoy a better and healthier quality of
life if they have easy access to an attractive, well designed and managed green environment which is rich in bio-diversity.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is investing £38 million to support the delivery of green infrastructure projects, meeting our 10 per cent. funding commitment set out in the Governments response to the Barker Report. Examples include the Forest of Marston Vale; the Nene Valley Regional Park; Green Park South, Peterborough; the Wicken Fen Vision; Singleton Environment Centre, Ashford; and Bedford River Valley Park.
In 2004, the Government published Greening the Gateway, a greenspace strategy for the Thames Gateway, which set a strategic context for the delivery of regional and local environmental initiatives. The Department for Communities and Local Government has invested over £26 million in green infrastructure projects in the Thames Gateway, and has supported the development of Green Grids in Kent Thameside, East London and South Essex as examples of best practice in providing an accessible interlinking chain of local green space that encourages travel without cars.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans her Department has to improve the provision of council housing for those with serious disabilities in (a) Tamworth and (b) the West Midlands region. 
Yvette Cooper: Responsibility for planning the provision of housing for those with serious disabilities lies with local housing authorities who are responsible for assessing housing needs within their areas and devising strategies to address them. If an authority identifies the need for more specially appointed social housing for people with disabilities it may decide to modify council houses or to work with Housing Associations on modification or new development. Local housing authorities also have a mandatory duty to fund adaptations to council housing for eligible disabled tenants under the disabled facilities grant legislation contained in the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will establish an appeal mechanism for when the Environment Agency decides not carry out an environmental assessment of a planning application for a hydro-electric generating plant; and if she will make a statement. 
The decision on whether an environmental impact assessment (EIA) is required for a proposed project rests with the appropriate competent authority. In the case of projects which fall within the planning system, the competent authority is normally the local planning authority. The
Environment Agencys role for EIA purposes is as a statutory consultation body. There is a statutory appeal mechanism for an applicant for planning permission who disagrees with a planning authority's decision to require EIA. Action against an authority's decision not to require EIA, however, could only be pursued by means of an application for judicial review.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 19 June 2006, Official Report, column 1599W, on Ministers offices, which Ministers who previously had offices in 26 Whitehall when part of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister moved to Eland House following the creation of the Department of Communities and Local Government. 
Angela E. Smith: My hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper) and my noble Friend Baroness Andrews moved from 26 Whitehall to offices in Eland House following the creation of the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 19 June 2006, Official Report, column 1599W, on Ministers offices, who occupies the offices in 26 Whitehall which were previously occupied by Ministers within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. 
Angela E. Smith: The offices in 26 Whitehall previously occupied by my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper) and my noble Friend Baroness Andrews are currently empty pending decisions on reassignment.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many houses indicated in plans scheduled for completion by 2020 in London and the South East are to be built in areas determined by the Environment Agency as liable for flooding, broken down by site. 
Yvette Cooper: This information is not held centrally by the Department for Communities and Local Government but may be available from local planning authorities in London and the South East, as the bodies responsible for preparing development plans.
Planning Policy Guidance Note 25 (PPG25) Development and Flood Risk requires local planning authorities to apply a sequential test to land at risk of flooding. The test has regard to the area liable to flooding, the probability of it occurring and the extent and standard of flood defences among other factors.
For London, the risk of flooding was considered in the Greater London Authoritys London Housing Capacity study 2004, which assessed housing potential to 2027. Sites deemed unsuitable on flood risk grounds
were excluded and many other sites with lower risk of flooding had their potential housing capacities reduced.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 20 December 2005, Official Report, column 2832W, on permitted development rights, whether he plans to hold a consultation on the Lichfield and Partners report on the Operation of Permitted Development Rights (2003); whether the Department plans to comment formally on the report; to what purpose the report (a) has been and (b) is planned to be put; and what the cost of the Lichfield and Partners review and report was. 
There are no plans to hold a consultation on the report by Lichfield and Partners or to comment formally on it. Changes to the operation of permitted development rights will continue to be taken forward on a topic-related basis and consulted on as such. For example, we announced on 4 July that we will draw up proposals to revise the scope of householder permitted development rights. The report will continue to inform such consideration. The cost of the report was £102,725.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the Governments policy is on the provision of planning permission to create new basement properties. 
Yvette Cooper: As basements can provide extra space without additional land take, the Government supports their provision, in appropriate circumstances, as part of new housing or as alterations to existing properties. Whether planning permission is required depends on the circumstances of each particular case. For example, excavation below an existing property to create a basement would require planning permission whereas adapting an existing cellar would not require planning permission if all the works were internal.
The question of the need for planning permission for their provision in residential properties was one of a number of issues looked at by a group reviewing the subject of householder development consents more widely. The report of that group was published on 4 July 2006 and it recognised that there was concern that the absence of guidance on the planning status of basements discouraged their wider use. We will be undertaking further work on householder permitted development in light of that report with a view to consulting on detailed proposals later this year.
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