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Hazel Blears: A White Paper on empowering citizens and communities will be published shortly. It will set out plans to give communities a more significant role in shaping local decisions and services.
Caroline Flint: We do not set targets for the homes that local authorities build; but through PPS3, Planning and Housing, we have given local authorities greater flexibility to meet specific local needs, and bring about the building of family homes.
Additionally we have set the Housing Corporation the target that 30 per cent. of its social rented homes completed through its Affordable Housing Programme in 2008-09 should be family homes with three or more bedrooms.
16. Tom Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made on implementing proposals for the transfer of assets to community groups; and what effect the Empowerment White Paper consultation will have on this process. 
Ms Butler: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made on her proposals for the transfer of assets to community groups; and what effect the Empowerment White Paper consultation will have on this process. 
Hazel Blears: Since May 2007, community groups have been assisted on asset transfer projects in 20 demonstration areas; a further 12 areas commenced in April 2008; the Cabinet Office has allocated £30 million in refurbishment grants; and new guidance for local authorities has been developed.
17. Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will bring forward proposals to amend planning legislation to require improvements in energy efficiency in listed buildings, conservation areas and National Parks. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Historic buildings vary considerably in the extent to which they can accommodate energy efficiency measures without losing their special interest. Our present policy is to encourage owners of historic buildings to improve their energy efficiency where and to the extent that is practically possible, provided this does not prejudice the character of the building or increase the risk of long-term deterioration of the fabric or fittings. However, we do not rule out the possibility of legislation.
18. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the effect of housing market forecasts on the delivery of Government housing and planning targets. 
The Government monitor closely current trends in the housing market. I have commissioned my Department, working with English Partnerships, the Housing Corporation and the Homes and Communities Agency transition team, to review where there is scope to do more across our programmes to address current challenges in the housing market and create the right conditions for rapid recovery.
19. Alun Michael: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she is taking to ensure that trees of national importance or significance are identified and protected. 
Mr. Iain Wright: We are bringing forward a package of measures through the Planning Bill, secondary legislation and revised guidance to improve the protection given to trees. In particular, we will be making it clearer in our guidance that trees of historic and cultural value can be protected as well as trees with visual amenity. We also intend to remove exemptions for dying trees and restricting the works that can be undertaken to dangerous trees to that necessary to remove the danger, which will significantly increase the protection of veteran trees.
The Department will be setting up a working group to assist with the preparation of revised guidance on the operation of the Tree Preservation Order system, and to explore whether a voluntary register of trees might help to further protect trees of special importance.
20. Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to publish her response to the draft regional spatial strategy for the south-west. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Secretary of State is currently considering whether to propose changes to the draft RSS in response to the report of the independent panel that conducted the Examination in Public. The intention is to publish any proposed changes, for a 12-week period of consultation, later in the summer.
21. Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to issue planning policy statements in relation to eco-towns; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: We expect to publish a draft planning policy statement for consultation in July. It will be a material consideration in the determination of any planning application for an eco-town, particularly where the Development Plan is silent or out of date.
22. Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the guidance to local authorities on the use of out-of-borough temporary accommodation. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Local authorities are legally obliged to have regard to the Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, which includes the suitable location of accommodation. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing is to meet with a number of London boroughs to discuss their use of temporary accommodation as a result of notification of out-of-borough placements from our team of homelessness specialist advisers and my hon. Friend.
Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of domestic residential dwellings in each council tax band in the London Borough of Bexley. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answers to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 19 February 2008 , Official
Report, column 613W, 2 April 2008, Official Report, columns 924-25W, on council tax: valuation and 7 May 2008, Official Report, columns 1035-36W, if she will place in the Library copies of the calculations and work relating to the number of consequentials that informed the discussions at the Council Tax Revaluation Programme Board (England). 
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will review salary negotiations for public sector employees in organisations within her Departments responsibility to reflect the rise in the consumer price index to a point above 3 per cent. 
Mr. Dhanda: The Governments pay policy is guided by the following principles. Public sector pay settlements should be consistent with maintaining the necessary levels of recruitment, retention and staff engagement needed to support service delivery; ensuring that total pay bills represent value for money and are affordable within Departments overall expenditure plans; and consistent with the achievement of the inflation target. Timing of pay decisions for a particular work force depends on pay-setting arrangements for that work force.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was spent by her Department on subscriptions for magazines, newspapers and other publications in each of the last 24 months. 
Mr. Dhanda: Since 1999, the Government have published the total cost of all overseas travel by Ministers and a list of all overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers costing over £500. Information for the last financial year was published on 25 July 2007, Official Report, column 1112W. Details for the financial year 2007-08 will be published before the summer recess and will include details of overseas visits undertaken by all Ministers. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how long on average her Department took to answer (a) ordinary written and (b) named day questions in each of the last three years. 
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the division of responsibilities between the Thames Gateway and the East of England Regional Assembly is; what mechanisms are in place for co-ordination of their activities; what geographical area each covers; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: The East of England regional assembly is the regional planning and housing body for the East of England; helps to co-ordinate public sector expenditure and activity in the region; and scrutinises the work of the East of England Development Agency. The regional assembly is responsible for preparing the regional spatial strategy (RSS) for the East of England.
The Thames Gateway is a large scale regeneration programme covering South Essex, North Kent and East London, where the Government and their local delivery partners are working to create the conditions for growth and regeneration. The Thames Gateway in South Essex spans the districts of Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford, and the unitary authorities of Southend and Thurrock.
The Thames Gateway Delivery Plan, launched by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in November 2007, sets out the Governments vision for the Gateway and identifies how over £9 billion funding from across Government will be invested in the Thames Gateway over the next three years.
Communities and Local Governments Thames Gateway Executive is responsible for co-ordinating the activity across Government to deliver the regeneration of the Gateway. It is also responsible for the management of the Departments £500 million funding programme for the Thames Gateway.
The East of England regional assembly is represented on the Thames Gateway Strategic Partnership which co-ordinates the activities of central government, local and regional partners across the Thames Gateway.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department has allocated to support the development of eco-towns in the current spending review period. 
Caroline Flint: CSR07 allocated £1.7 billion of targeted funding over the CSR07 period for infrastructure in Growth Areas, the Thames Gateway, New Growth Points and eco-towns, including £300 million to continue the Community Infrastructure Fund. Decisions on the split and distribution of growth funding, including support for eco-towns, will be announced in due course.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) of 6 June 2008, Official Report, column 1176W, on eco-towns, how many hectares of greenfield development are included in each of the proposed eco-town developments. 
Caroline Flint: As I set out in my answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) summary descriptions for each of the shortlisted eco-towns locations are set out in the consultation document, Eco-towns - Living a greener future, and further information about the schemes, including the site, are available through the Departments website.
Robert Neill: 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 7 May 2008, Official Report, column 1037W, on eco-towns: planning permissions, whether types of development other than new homes with particular reference to (a) commercial development and (b) transport infrastructure, will be built on green belt land as part of any of the shortlisted eco-town bids. 
Caroline Flint: We have said that no homes will be built on the green belt and our assessments will consider the effects of all development, not just homes, on the natural environment, green spaces and the green belt. We are actively encouraging innovative proposals that enhance our biodiversity and improve the natural environment, by integrating green spaces into the new towns. In some locations where fixed infrastructure such as railways or roads cross the green belt, it may be unavoidable to include development associated with these elements of infrastructure. Any development on the green belt in the final shortlisted locations would face the stringent tests set out in PPG 2: Green Belts, which has a presumption against inappropriate development.
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