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Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether new dwellings constructed in eco-towns will be considered as windfall sites for the purposes of meeting regional spatial strategy targets. 
Caroline Flint: Depending on progress towards future housing targets in regional and local plans, part of the eco-town housing may count towards the existing or emerging housing number. We will provide more details on this when we publish the short list of successful proposals.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what property attributes and data her Department collects from local authorities on the number of vacant domestic dwellings derived from council tax data; whether such data is broken down at ward level; what the mechanism for transferring the data is; and what the most recent period is for which such data is held. 
John Healey: The annual survey of empty homes collects data on council tax discount and exemption codes which can be used to produce statistics indicative of the incidence of empty or second homes. No other attribute data are collected. The data are currently collected at property level so they can be aggregated to ward boundaries. The data are uploaded by local authorities through a secure departmental web-based data collection system. The latest data held are for April 2007.
Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which organisations (a) within and (b) outside Government she consulted before proposing amendments to the rules governing empty property rates. 
John Healey: The decision to reform empty property rates followed the recommendations of the independent Barker Review into Land-Use Planning and the Lyons Inquiry into Local Government. A list of organisations and individuals who made representations to the reviews can be found in their reports.
Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she has had with regional development agencies on amendments to the rules governing empty property rates. 
John Healey: The decision to reform empty property rates followed the recommendations of the independent Barker Review into Land-Use Planning and the Lyons Inquiry into Local Government to which the regional development agencies made submissions.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she received a copy of the Eastern Counties Fire and Rescue Services Acetylene Incident Report concerning Incident 20350 on the A12 at Marks Tey on 5 October 2007; what assessment she has made of its conclusions and recommendation; and if she will make a statement. 
This feedback arrangement is part of the national Fires of Special Interest reporting system and it is designed to provide feedback on the effectiveness of the Competent Persons scheme. This is a scheme that offers expert industry advice to Fire and Rescue Services on cylinders involved in fires. The British Compressed Gas Association (BCGA) provides an Industry Support System to the Fire and Rescue Service (F and RS) and aims to assist the Incident Commander to effectively resolve the incident.
Mr. Dhanda: IT is provided centrally for all Government Offices. The costs for London are expected to be approximately £893,000 for the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008 based on their headcount against the overall central IT budget. This excludes telephony.
The costs for telephony for Government Office for London are expected to be £195,000 for the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008. Telephony was provided under a legacy contract which has now ceased. A new contract for telephony services covering all the Government Offices will provide significant savings both for Government Office for London and for the Government Office estate as a whole in 2008-09.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 29 January 2008, Official Report, column 230W, on home information packs (HIPs), for what reason the status of approved training provider for HIP and energy performance certificate inspectors was removed from Morgan Whittaker. 
Caroline Flint: A full assessment of the impact of home information packs (HIPs) on the housing market was carried out before the decision to roll out HIPs across the market on 14 December 2007. This assessment supported earlier modelling that found no evidence of any impact on transactions or prices. In addition, we have continued to monitor the operation of HIPs following the roll out across the market. All evidence points to a smooth introduction of HIPs.
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she has taken in response to allegations of gate-keeping by
local authority homelessness units where those approaching for assistance are prevented from making an official homelessness application. 
Mr. Iain Wright: We continue to emphasise to local authorities that their efforts to prevent homelessness must work alongside their obligations under homelessness legislation. In particular, the revised Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, published in July 2006, makes clear that when considering applications for assistance, authorities must not avoid their obligations under the legislation. This was emphasised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) in her letter of 12 April 2006.
We undertake regular analysis of the homelessness statistics reported quarterly by individual housing authorities. If these reveal a notable reduction in acceptances in any area, a specialist adviser from the Housing Strategy and Support Directorate will contact the authority to discuss how this has been achieved. This helps to identify good practice in homelessness prevention which can be shared with other authorities, as well as safeguarding against any risk of gate-keeping.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what powers the Homes and Communities Agency will have to develop areas where such development is not supported by the local authority. 
Caroline Flint: The Homes and Communities Agency will, like any other developer, be required to secure planning permission for any proposed development. The agency will not be able to circumvent the planning system in any way, and will have no powers to allow it to develop areas against the wishes of the local authority.
If a local authority is against a particular kind of development within its area this should be clear from the local development framework. Such an omission would afford the local planning authority the opportunity to dismiss any planning application that was brought forward that proposed such a development on the grounds that it did not meet with the agreed and adopted plans for the area.
Where an application for development is not in accordance with the development plan a local planning authority will consider whether there are any material considerations which justify approving the application in any event, for example it could include where the proposed development would bring wider benefits to the local area.
Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the assumption in the Budget of net migration of 190,000 per year, what estimate she has made of the effects of net migration on housing demand; how many additional households will be generated a year on the basis of this assumption; and what the Governments previous estimate was of the number of additional households generated by net migration. 
Mr. Iain Wright [holding answer 18 March 2008]: The assumption of 190,000 per year net migration into the UK is the principal long term assumption in the Office for National Statistics 2006-based population projections. The equivalent assumption for net migration into England is 171,500 per year. An assessment of the impact on household growth of this migration assumption will be made as part of updated household projections that are planned later this year, following publication by the Office for National Statistics of the 2006-based sub-national population projections.
The 2004-based household projections, for England, showed that one third of the projected household growth of 223,000 per year was attributable to net migration into England. The underlying 2004-based population projection assumed 130,000 per year net migration into England compared with 171,500 per year in the 2006-based national population projection.
Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much Government funding has been allocated to Morecambe and Lunesdale for housing regeneration since 1997. 
Caroline Flint: Allocations to Lancaster city council, which includes Morecambe in its area, of capital funding for housing purposes over the period 1997-98 to 2007-08 exceeds £40 million. This includes the major repairs allowance first introduced in 2001-02 specifically for the improvement of local authority stock alongside the decent homes standard which sets out minimum standards to be met by 2010.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what financial assistance was given to Shrewsbury borough council to help provide affordable housing in (a) 2006 and (b) 2007. 
Mr. Iain Wright: In March 2006 the Government announced investment of nearly £4 billion from 2006-08 to deliver 84,000 new affordable homes in the Housing Corporation's national affordable housing programme (NAHP).
2006-07: £3 million; and
2007-08: £3 million.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the yearly target is for the number of new residential dwellings to be built in the Thames Gateway area; and what the geographical scope is of the target. 
Caroline Flint: The Governments target is for a net increase of 160,000 new dwellings to be provided throughout the entire Thames Gateway over the period from April 2001 to March 2016 inclusive. The rate of delivery is not expected to be consistent over that period and a substantial acceleration in the rate of housebuilding is expected in the latter part of the period as a number of very large siteswhich necessarily involve long lead timescome on stream. The target has not been broken down into annual increments.
The current boundary of the Thames Gatewayand the boundary to which the housing target appliesis as illustrated in the Governments 2003 publication: The Sustainable Communities Plan, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.
Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what criteria the Infrastructure Planning Commission will use on sustainability in its assessment of development proposals. 
John Healey: The Infrastructure Planning Commission will take decisions on applications for development consent for nationally significant infrastructure within the framework provided by national policy statements, which will integrate economic, social and environment objectives with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development.
John Healey: My Department has been involved in the development of the INTERACT programmes through leading the UK representation on working groups overseeing its preparation and agreeing the priorities and work programme.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the consultation documents produced by her Department as part of the Interreg IVA 2 Seas Operational Programme. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Government have made significant changes to the planning system since May 1997. Of particular relevance to premises licensed to sell alcohol are the changes which the Government have made to the Use Classes Order and the Governments planning policy for town centre development.
Changes to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 came into force on 21 April 2005, as set out in Circular 03/2005. This amended Order disaggregated the former A3: Food and Drink use Class into three separate use classes to give local planning authorities more influence over the number, size, range and distribution of premises licensed to sell alcohol in their areas. The new A4: Drinking Establishments class caters specifically for pubs and bars i.e. places where the primary purpose is the sale and consumption of alcoholic drink on the premises.
The Governments key planning policy, which applies to premises licensed to sell alcohol, is Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for Town Centres (PPS6), published in 2005, which replaces Planning Policy Guidance Note 6 (DoE, 1996). PPS6 applies to a broad range of uses, including bars, pubs, night-clubs and other leisure uses. It contains specific policy on how to manage evening and night-time economy uses. It should be taken into account by planning authorities in the preparation of local planning policies and in the consideration of planning applications.
PPS6 should be read alongside other relevant statements of national planning policy which have been published since 1997, in particular Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development, which is the Governments overarching planning policy and which includes policy on design and crime prevention, and Planning Policy Guidance Note 13: Transport which includes guidance on how local planning authorities should manage travel demand.
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