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16 Jun 2008 : Column 706W—continued


Housing: Construction

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect of the downturn in the housing market on the number of planning applications for substantive new housing developments. [211379]

Mr. Iain Wright: No specific assessment has been made, but the Department does publish a quarterly National Statistics release on planning applications, decisions, enforcement activity, minerals and waste planning decisions at England, regional and local authority levels. The latest release published on 28 March 2008 can be found on the Department's website at:

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new residential dwelling starts were made in England in each quarter since the first quarter of 2007. [211386]

Mr. Iain Wright: The following table shows residential dwelling starts in England since the first quarter of 2007.

Quarter Residential dwelling starts

Q1 2007

43,655

Q2 2007

43,050

Q3 2007

42,229

Q4 2007

38,134

Q1 2008

33,024

Source:
P2Q returns from local authorities and National House Building Council

Housing: Planning Permission

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the removal of permitted development rights for householders to pave over their front gardens will require secondary legislation or revised guidance. [211073]

Mr. Iain Wright: Current permitted development rights that allow householders to pave over their front gardens will be amended so as to require that the paving will not lead to the front garden area being impermeable. This will be achieved through an amendment to The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. We intend this change to come into force on 1 October this year and we will publish guidance to explain how householders can comply with this requirement.

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many planning applications were submitted for a change of use from a private garden to a residential property in each of the last five years; and how many of these applications were successful in each year. [210472]

Mr. Iain Wright: The information requested is not held centrally. Communities and Local Government collects quarterly aggregate statistics on development control from all local planning authorities in England. However, we do not collect information on individual planning applications.

Housing: Regeneration

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she and the Minister for Housing have had with the
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existing homes alliance on refurbishment and retrofitting of existing housing stock. [210738]

Mr. Iain Wright: Ministers have not yet had direct discussions with the Existing Homes Alliance (EHA). We welcome discussions with stakeholders, such as the EHA, in tackling the vital issue of reducing the carbon footprint of the existing housing stock.

Housing: Standards

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her most recent assessment is of the progress on meeting targets for decent home standards by 2010. [211555]

Mr. Iain Wright: Our latest assessment of progress is set out in chapter 7 of the Department's annual report. Copies are available in the Library of the House. Overall based on what social landlords have told us in terms of delivery of decent homes stretching beyond 2010, the amount of money we expect to be spent and progress to date we expect that 95 per cent. of the stock will be decent by 2010.

Local Authorities: Tourism

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how much local authorities spent on tourism in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement; [210494]

(2) how much local authorities spent on marketing and promoting tourism in each of the last five years. [210257]

John Healey: Information on how much local authorities in England have spent on tourism in each of the last five years is published in Annex C of Local Government Financial Statistics (LGFS) England. The 2002-03 information can be found in Table Cld LGFS No. 15: 2004, 2003-04 in Table Cle LGFS No. 16: 2005, 2004-05 and 2005-06 in Tables Cli and Clj respectively in LGFS No. 17: 2007 and 2006-07 in Table Cle LGFS No. 18:2008.

These publications have been deposited in the Library of the House and are also available on the Communities and Local Government website at:

Information on marketing and promoting tourism is not collected separately.

Non-domestic Rates

John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many hereditaments in (a) Leeds West constituency and (b) Leeds Metropolitan District received small business rate relief in each year since 2000. [211186]

John Healey: Leeds city council reported there were 6,226 businesses in their area in receipt of small business rate relief as at 31 December 2006, the only year for which this information is currently available.
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Corresponding information for the Leeds West constituency is not held centrally.

Railways

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department issues on whether members of staff may claim for travel in first class carriages on trains if there are no seats in standard class. [211387]

Mr. Dhanda: All departmental staff may travel in first class carriages on trains where there are no seats available in standard class carriages. However, staff are asked only to travel if it is necessary and when official business cannot be settled by any other methods such as telephone or video conferencing.

Regional Planning and Development: Manpower

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff are employed (a) full-time and (b) part-time at (i) local, (ii) regional and (iii) national level to work on the implementation of the Review of Sub-National Economic Development and Regeneration; whether she plans to change these numbers before completion of the review; and whether the staff concerned will continue to be employed after completion. [210614]

John Healey: A number of staff in the Department contribute to the implementation of the Review of Sub-National Economic Development and Regeneration, including those working on regional planning, business rate supplements, local authority performance and local economic development.

However, it is not possible, at reasonable cost, to disaggregate staff time spent specifically on the implementation of the review. Full details of my Department's expenditure in 2007-08 can be found in Annex B to its 2008 Annual Report: “Community, Opportunity, Prosperity” (Cm 3794). There has been no net increase in staffing as a result of the review and decisions on future staff needs will be taken in the context of wider business planning exercises.

Rented Housing

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what research her Department has undertaken on the price of accommodation in the private rented sector since 2005. [210437]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Department ran the Survey of English Housing as a continuous household survey from 1993-94 to 2007-08. Information collected by this survey from private renting households included a range of characteristics such as rent paid, size of accommodation, tenancy type, whether household in receipt of housing benefit, and location. The results have been used extensively by policy users, academics and researchers to help inform research projects about the private rented sector.


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Rented Housing: Antisocial Behaviour

Mr. Kemp: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to provide more powers for police and local authorities in relation to private landlords whose tenants engage in persistent antisocial behaviour. [211340]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Housing Act 2004 introduced a range of powers—both mandatory and discretionary—to enable local housing authorities to both require and incentivise private sector landlords to improve the management of their stock, including tackling antisocial behaviour by tenants.

In line with the commitment given to Parliament, we have commissioned a review of how these powers are working from the Buildings Research Establishment (BRE). The review will follow up on work carried out by BRE to map the position when the legislation was introduced.

The independent review of the private rented sector led by Julie Rugg and David Rhodes at the university of York is also considering issues around the management of private rented stock.

Rented Housing: Bristol

Stephen Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the average cost of private rented accommodation in the Bristol City Council area in each year since 2000 for which figures are available. [210435]

Mr. Iain Wright: The average cost of private rented accommodation is available, but only at a regional level. The Department’s data source, the Survey of English Housing, does not have a large enough annual sample to generate reliable private rental estimates at local authority level.

The recent trend in average rents for the Government office region of the south-west and for the whole of England is as follows:

Average monthly rent( 1 ) of “free market”( 2) private tenancies , south wes t region and England, 1999-2000 to 2006-07
£ per month
South W est England

1999-2000 to 2000-01

364

421

2000-01 to 2001-02

396

460

2001-02 to 2002-03

413

502

2002-03 to 2003-04

419

518

2003-04 to 2004-05

446

517

2004-05 to 2005-06

469

534

2005-06 to 2006-07

495

556

(1) Before deduction of housing benefit where applicable
(2) Assured shorthold tenancies accessible to the public without special conditions
Note:
Sampling variability is too great to provide reliable regional estimates for individual years
Source:
Survey of English Housing

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Repossession Orders

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homes have been repossessed in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) England in each year since 1997. [210972]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Department does not collect information on mortgage possessions although information for the United Kingdom as a whole, rather than regions or local authority areas, is published by the Council of Mortgage lenders. These data are available on its website at:

Thames Gateway: Finance

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) which (a) councils and (b) other organisations have bid for funds under the Thames Gateway Parklands programme; [210396]

(2) what proportion of funds to be distributed by Thames Gateway for its Parklands programme will be allocated to (a) Castle Point constituency and (b) Essex; [210399]

(3) what budgetary allocations have been made under the Thames Gateway Parklands programme; and what timetable has been set for the distribution of allocations. [210400]

Caroline Flint: The three sub-regional Thames Gateway Green Grid Partnerships have been invited to submit business plans by the 18 July to Communities and Local Government for projects which they would like to receive funding for from the Parklands budget of £35 million. The Department has not received any plans to date. Funding allocations will be made by the autumn.

Travelling People: Caravan Sites

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether Regional Spatial Strategies are required to set targets for Traveller pitches. [208101]

Mr. Dhanda: Local planning authorities are required to assess the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers in the same way that they assess the housing needs of other members of their local communities.

Local planning authorities do this through Gypsy and Travellers Accommodation Assessments (GTAAs). The GTAAs inform the preparation of policies in the draft Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS).

The RSS identifies the number of pitches required (but not the location); it is for local planning authorities to consider the location of the pitches required for their area, possibly in conjunction with neighbouring local planning authorities.


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Waste Management: Energy

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effects on public health of new energy from waste developments. [210360]

Joan Ruddock: I have been asked to reply.

In 2004, my Department published an independent study on the health impacts from waste management—“Review of Environmental and Health Effects of Waste Management: Municipal Solid Waste and Similar Wastes”. The study was peer-reviewed by the Royal Society and concluded that the treatment, including the recovery of energy, from municipal solid waste,

In relation to incineration, it stated that,

This was supported in a more recent position statement by the Health Protection Agency on municipal waste incineration (November 2005),


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