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16 Oct 2006 : Column 697

16 Oct 2006 : Column 698

16 Oct 2006 : Column 699

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments):

The House divided: Ayes 284, Noes 63.
Division No. 306]
[10.15 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Durkan, Mark
Eagle, Angela
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Harris, Mr. Tom
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley

Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, Jim
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morley, Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Ussher, Kitty
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.

Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Michael Foster and
Mr. Frank Roy

Alexander, Danny
Baker, Norman
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Brake, Tom
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Lorely
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Davey, Mr. Edward
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Foster, Mr. Don
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunter, Mark
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kramer, Susan
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Mulholland, Greg
Öpik, Lembit
Price, Adam
Pugh, Dr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rowen, Paul
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Smith, Sir Robert
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Wishart, Pete
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Bob Russell and
Jenny Willott
Question accordingly agreed to.
16 Oct 2006 : Column 700

16 Oct 2006 : Column 701

Mr. Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


northern ireland



Park Chase Development

10.28 pm

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Con): Castle Point is becoming grotesquely over-developed. Worst of all is the proliferation of ugly blocks of flats with little or no space for amenities. They ruin the environment for neighbours and put terminal stress on our already overburdened infrastructure. The petition that I present tonight deals with just such a case. It was compiled by residents of Hadleigh, who live around the proposed site.

The petition:

To Lie upon the Table.

16 Oct 2006 : Column 703

Planning (Community Involvement)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Mr. Heppell.]

10.30 pm

Mr. Paul Truswell (Pudsey) (Lab): This debate is prompted by concerns arising from the interim report on the land use planning process produced by Kate Barker. My fear, and the fear of many of my constituents, is that it will effectively lead to calls for a reduction in opportunities for community involvement. In fact, I contend that there is too little community involvement in the planning process and that what we have should be made to work better and even enhanced. It should not be diluted or removed.

In my experience, and mine is no exception, there are few areas where there are not tensions between developments—usually housing, but not always—and the local community. Without touching the heights of hyperbole, I submit that in my experience of 25 years as both councillor and MP, the planning process has been the single most significant vehicle for local people's engagement in the local democratic process.

Shortly after being granted this debate, I was contacted by a faith community in my constituency. Its comments and experience of the system demonstrate that, while the present approach has many potential components for community participation, those are very limited in practice. It is at this point that I regret not wearing my reading spectacles because my office has supplied me with a rather poor photocopy. Basically, my constituents point with some approbation to a number of Government documents. Those include the UK sustainable development strategy and the sustainable communities plan, the sentiments of which they welcome. They have also raised the issue of the contents of the “Diversity and Equality in Planning” document, which was produced by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in January 2004.

If I may, I will allow my constituents to speak for themselves for a short time by reading what they have written to me:

the “Diversity and Equality in Planning” document—

While those are the views of just one group in my constituency, I believe from experience that they are very representative of the concerns regarding involvement in the planning process, and that involvement is under threat.

Streamlining the planning process is a bit like trying to streamline democracy. As Winston Churchill once
16 Oct 2006 : Column 704
said—it is not usually my habit to quote Conservative politicians in aid of my arguments—democracy is the worst form of government, apart from all the rest. In other words, you win some and you lose some. There is rough and smooth for all parties, and the planning process is no exception.

Communities in my constituency are in continual conflict with planners and developers over excessive and overbearing housing and office developments. We are not talking about nimbyism. It really disappoints me when civil servants and sometimes even Ministers caricature local opposition to planning applications as nimbyism. My constituents often recognise the case for development, especially on derelict and redundant industrial sites. They do not want to see decaying eyesores on their doorsteps, but they want to ensure that there is some semblance of sustainability and sensitivity to their needs and to the problems and character of their neighbourhood. Such key considerations often get lost in the pursuit of profit.

All too often, we see planning applications submitted at densities of up to 80 or 90 properties per hectare. In most cases, local opposition, in which I have been proud to be involved regularly, has reduced that to 50 or less.

If one asks businesses and developers, as Ms Barker did in her review, whether the planning process is an obstacle to enterprise, they are bound to say that it is. All regulations, whether health and safety measures, the minimum wage, anti-discrimination legislation or environmental protection requirements, to name but a few, are unpopular in certain quarters, but they need to be weighed in the balance. We certainly do not want community involvement in planning to be offered as a glib sacrifice to the cutting of red tape or even to globalisation. Businesses are answerable to their shareholders, and the bottom line of their balance sheet matters. There is nothing inherently wrong in that approach, but community involvement in the planning process, including resistance to demands for overbearing development or inappropriate planning permission is very much regarded as a debit on their balance sheets.

From a community point of view, however, the planning process is already skewed in favour of the developer. Applicants have a right of appeal against refusal, but communities do not. The argument is that the elected council that determines the planning application represents the community interest, but sometimes councils give themselves planning permission. Occasionally, they simply get it wrong, as the wool is pulled over their eyes. My hon. Friend the Minister may have heard of Silver Cross prams, whose factory was based in my constituency for most of the last century. Some years ago, consultants were appointed to “rescue” the company, and said that half the site had to be redesignated for housing to subsidise its recovery. Having held a gun at the council’s head, they received planning permission, and departed with cash for the sale of the land, leaving the company’s recovery to someone else. That was all legitimate, but quite wrong in the eyes of the local community. A third-party right of appeal would at least have allowed a challenge to that travesty, with which the community must now live in perpetuity.

The UDP—unitary development plan—process demonstrates the way in which the community must
16 Oct 2006 : Column 705
play catch-up. Only objectors can be represented at inquiries, but the UDP has been overridden on scores of industrial brownfield sites in my area that have been redesignated for housing. Given the omission of the community from the key inquiry stage, it is vital that it retain the right to challenge each departure from the UDP. At this point, it is appropriate to refer to the regional spatial strategy. Despite its importance, the RSS is regarded very much as a top-down, inaccessible part of the planning process. For example, housing targets set at that undemocratic level often result in the die being cast before planning applications are made at local level, which is when they can be challenged by communities.

Those planning issues affect my whole constituency. Applications for over-intensive and inappropriate development have been made, and continue to be made in Pudsey, Yeadon, Horsforth, Rodley and Farsley, but I wish to concentrate on the experience of the town of Guiseley. Planning permissions over the past six or seven years have given the go-ahead for about 1,200 extra homes—a 30 per cent. increase, I estimate, in the size of the town, without a commensurate increase in local infrastructure to support it. In my area, developers, as I said, invariably submit plans for housing with a density of 70 to 90 properties per hectare on brownfield sites, which is well above the 30 to 50 properties per hectare indicated by PPG 3. They argue that the sites fulfil PPG requirements for greater density, because of transport links and other factors. In almost all cases, community involvement and pressure has led to the rejection of initial planning applications, and subsequent ones are reduced to about 50 properties per hectare—in some cases, that is almost half the figure in the original application.

Developers or even planning officers point to a local station, for example, or the existence of a major road corridor with bus services, as evidence of good public transport links. The community, however, points to a station at which trains do not stop, because they are full as a result of lack of capacity and overcrowding at peak times. They point out that bus services have been reduced and become far less reliable in the 20 years since deregulation was introduced. Section 106 agreements can be used to derive a contribution from developers towards infrastructure, including crossings, road improvements, open space, public transport and school buildings.

However, it is often the cumulative effect of developments, rather than a single development, that creates the pressures and it is difficult, therefore, to apportion section 106 contributions to individual developments over time to address those cumulative effects. Many local authorities do not have a coherent strategic approach to the negotiation and use of 106 moneys. Certainly, in my experience, there is little community involvement in determining how it is used. All too often, it is used in a very ad hoc way.

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