Previous Section Index Home Page

6 Oct 2008 : Column 357W—continued

Planning: South East

Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answer of 17 September 2008, Official Report, column 2206W, on planning: South East, what her latest estimate is of the date upon which the South East Plan will be (a) adopted and (b) come into force as planning guidance. [224515]

Mr. Khan: The Secretary of State is aiming to adopt and publish the final version of the South East Plan as soon as practicable after considering the responses to the consultation which ends on 24 October. The exact timing will depend on the level and nature of the responses made to the Government’s Proposed Changes to the draft. The final South East Plan will have statutory force on the date of adoption. In the meantime the Secretary of State would expect local authorities to attach a significant degree of weight to the emerging draft plan in their decision making.

Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answer of 17 September 2008, Official Report, column 2206W, on planning: South East, what steps have been made to enable digitally excluded households to respond to the latest consultation on the South East Plan. [224516]


6 Oct 2008 : Column 358W

Mr. Khan: The draft South East Plan Proposed Changes have been distributed throughout the region in accordance with statutory requirements. Copies and summaries, along with supporting documents have been sent to local councils and libraries, to Parish and Town Councils, the MPs and MEPs and to anyone who requested copies earlier in the process. They are also available on request from the Government Office for the South East.

Responses can be made either in writing or electronically. A standard response form is available and can be photocopied, and the Government will consider all comments received on the published Proposed Changes.

Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answer of 17 September 2008, Official Report, column 2206W, on planning: South East, if she will make it her policy that written representations made to the Government Office for the South East on the latest South East Plan consultation which do not cite specific paragraphs of the Plan will be considered fully as part of the consultation process. [224517]

Mr. Khan: The Secretary of State has a statutory duty to consider all responses made to the Government’s own Proposed Changes to the draft South East Plan.

The Proposed Changes document makes it clear that comments should only be made where the Secretary of State has set out changes to the draft prepared by the South East of England Regional Assembly, as sections not proposed for change have already been subject to consultation and independent scrutiny.

While the Government will consider all views expressed on its published changes it would greatly assist the administrative process if respondents could quote the Proposed Change number when submitting comments.

Planning: Thames Gateway

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 20 June 2008, Official Report, column 1241W, on planning: Thames Gateway, what each of the agreed detailed baselines are for the performance management of the Thames Gateway; and what monitoring process is in place of these baselines. [222876]

Mr. Iain Wright: The implementation planning baselines developed for the 2008-11 period were circulated to delivery partners for their confirmation of the position as at 9 May 2008 and issued in summary form to partners and other Government Departments on the 15 July 2008. These are therefore the definitive baseline for performance management of the range of bodies accountable for delivering projects and programmes in the Thames Gateway being funded by the Department.

Each accountable body provides a monthly progress update on spend, milestones and the achievement of outcomes, which is checked against the baseline. Every quarter, the Director General Regions and Communities, the Director of Delivery and the Director of Performance meet the Chief Executive of each Accountable Body to monitor progress made, review any necessary revisions to scope, and assess future targets.


6 Oct 2008 : Column 359W

Property Development: Green Belt

Mrs. Lait: 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 3 July 2008, Official Report, column 1063W, on property development: green belt, how many dwellings were built on green belt land in each year since 1997 for which figures are available; and how many hectares of land were so developed in each year. [222873]

Mr. Iain Wright: Decisions about the use of land which is designated as green belt, or whether land should be designated as green belt, must be taken in accordance with the policy in Planning Policy Guidance Note 2 on green belts. This policy has performed an important role in preventing urban sprawl and protecting the countryside for 50 years. There is a presumption against inappropriate development in green belt but the policy allows for some development there, such as to support agriculture or forestry or as limited infill in existing villages. Development that is inappropriate may be permitted only where the benefits clearly outweigh any harm to the green belt and where very special circumstances are also demonstrated. The Government remain committed to current green belt policy and have no intention of making fundamental changes to it.

In the period 1997-2006, an estimated 39,800 dwellings were built in the green belt (as designated in 2007). This accounts for less than 3 per cent. of all dwellings built in that period. In the period 1997-2004, which are the most recent robust figures available for the amount of land developed, around 1,750 hectares of the 2007 designated green belt were developed for residential use. This is around 5 per cent. of all land that changed to residential use in the same period.

The total area of green belt land in England in 2007 is 1,636,000 hectares. Taking into account the 47,300 hectares of green belt land which was designated as New Forest National Park in 2005 but which has equally strong policy protection, the total area of green belt in 2007 would show a net national increase of 33,000 hectares since 1997.

Property Development: Sittingbourne

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether Sittingbourne Light Railway Group participated in the key stakeholder discussions which gave rise to the Cluster Study report for Milton Regis. [224499]

Mr. Khan: The purpose of the Green Cluster study was to pull together existing documentation and establish an overall shared vision for Milton Creek. Two stakeholder workshops were held in November and December of last year. These covered the Milton Creek and Faversham Creek study areas, and as such involved strategic partners only, such as Kent Wildlife Trust and Natural England. Sittingbourne Light Railway Group was not involved in this—the purpose of the workshops was essentially information-gathering. However, an action arising from the final report was to liaise further with Sittingbourne Light Railway Group, and this is now being progressed.


6 Oct 2008 : Column 360W

Public Participation

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 24 June 2008, Official Report, columns 269-70W, on public participation, what plans in relation to the production of a national survey of attitudes are (a) in development and (b) under consideration; and what the scope of the attitudes under assessment is. [222952]

Mr. Khan: There are currently no plans to produce a bespoke national survey of attitudes, but we are currently exploring other options for measuring attitudes towards violent extremism.

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 24 June 2008, Official Report, columns 269-70W, on public participation, what topics were covered by the questions on sensitive issues referred to in the Answer. [222975]

Mr. Khan: The questions on sensitive issues covered the topic of attitudes towards violent extremism.

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 24 June 2008, Official Report, columns 269-70W, on public participation, in what way the proposed national survey of attitudes differs from the Integrated Household Survey. [222976]

John Healey: The Integrated Household Survey, formerly known as the Continuous Population Survey, is carried out by the Office for National Statistics. It asks sampled households questions on topics such as demographics, housing, employment, identity, health and education.

There are no plans to add questions on violent extremism to the Integrated Household Survey, nor are there currently plans to produce a bespoke national survey of attitudes, although we are currently exploring other options for measuring attitudes towards violent extremism.

Public Telephones

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 25 June 2008, Official Report, column 351W, on public telephones, how many stand-alone telephone boxes in England were on the 1995 ratings list on 31 March 1997 or the nearest date for which figures are available. [222882]

John Healey: The number of separate assessments of stand-alone telephone boxes appearing in the 1995 local rating lists for England at March 2000 (the nearest to that requested) was 45. This figure is the number of assessments rather than individual boxes and some assessments will be in respect of clusters of telephone boxes. British Telecom, Mercury Communications and Kingston Communications (Hull) Ltd telephone boxes—which account for the majority of such structures seen on English streets—are not separately assessed from their networks, and therefore are not identifiable in the rating lists.


6 Oct 2008 : Column 361W

Recycling: Fire Prevention

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment has been made of the fire risk from recycling sacks or boxes left near doorsteps in blocks of flats. [222644]

Mr. Khan: Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 it is for the ‘Responsible Person’ (usually the owner in these types of premises) to consider any fire risks associated with recycling boxes in and near the common parts of blocks flats, as a part of the fire risk assessment process.

Regional Planning and Development

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley of 19 June 2008, Official Report, column 1141W, on regional spatial strategies: green belt, whether it is the practice of (a) the Government Office for the Region and (b) planning inspectors to give informal valuations to local authorities on the soundness of a draft core strategy. [222890]

Mr. Iain Wright: Government offices aim to provide informal views on development plan documents (DPDs) prior to the examination and will seek to highlight any major concerns as risks to the soundness of the DPD. In commenting on work in progress, Government offices will make it clear that they are not in a position to test evidence in the way that an inspector would at an examination to establish whether the DPD is sound, particularly in terms of numbers contained within the DPD.

The Planning Inspectorate provides general advice to authorities about local development frameworks (LDFs), the nature of the examination process and the sort of evidence that is likely to be needed. This is published on the Planning Inspectorate website and can be accessed via the PPS12 Plan Making Manual published on the Planning Advisory Service website.

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley of 19 June 2008, Official Report, column 1141W, on regional spatial strategies: green belt, whether any core strategy development plan documents have been found unsound. [222891]

Mr. Iain Wright: Eight authorities have had their core strategy development plan documents found unsound. The authorities are Carrick district council; Chichester district council; Lichfield city council; Ryedale district council; Stafford borough council; Restormel borough council; Teignbridge district council and the Royal borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.

A paper has been placed in the House Library which sets out in summary the reasons why each core strategy has been found unsound.


6 Oct 2008 : Column 362W

Regional Planning and Development: Electronic Government

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 25 June 2008, Official Report, column 329W, on regional planning and development: electronic government, what public funding each regional assembly provided to its respective regional equality and diversity partnership. [222842]

John Healey: Regional assemblies receive government grant as a contribution towards the implementation of the region’s proposals which are described in a business plan. The Government produce business planning guidance which sets out the framework within which business plans can be agreed.

The annual reports of each assembly, including financial information and accounts, are published and can be accessed through the English Regions Network website.

The specific data requested are not routinely collected centrally.

Regional Planning and Development: Pollution Control

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the likely effect on carbon dioxide emissions of the spatial planning decisions in each regional spatial strategy. [222593]

Mr. Iain Wright: All RSS revisions are accompanied by a sustainability appraisal which considers the social, environmental and economic impacts of implementing the strategy. This includes assessment of air quality and climatic factors, which will impact upon carbon emissions.

Regional Planning And Development: South East

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable is for the publication of (a) her proposed changes to the South East Regional Spatial Strategy and (b) the final version of the strategy. [222571]

Mr. Khan: The Secretary of State’s Proposed Changes to the South East Regional Spatial Strategy were published on 17 July 2008, consultation closes on 24 October 2008.

Government are aiming to publish the final version of the South East Plan by the end of the year.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make it her policy to remove from the final version of the South East Plan any proposals to remove green belt protection where such proposals are not supported by the local planning authority. [222920]

Mr. Khan: Proposed Changes to the draft South East Plan are currently out for public consultation. Policies contained in this plan will be informed by the results of this ongoing consultation, and I am therefore not in a position to prejudice this process by commenting on the final form of the Plan at this stage.


6 Oct 2008 : Column 363W

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many hectares of green belt land are scheduled for (a) review and (b) deletion in the most recent version of the South East Plan. [222922]

Mr. Iain Wright: The current version of the Regional Spatial Strategy for the South East (2001) does not propose any green belt release. The Government are currently consulting on the new version of this strategy (known as the South East Plan). The draft contains proposals for selective review of green belt at Oxford and Guildford, and possibly to the South of Woking. The draft also states that boundary review will be required in the area of the former DERA site at Chertsey, as well as a small scale local review at Redhill/Reigate.

The draft also states that if green belt land is lost, consideration should be given to whether a broader review of green belt is needed with a particular view to determining whether additional land should be designated as green belt.

The exact area of land that will be reviewed, removed or added to the green belt will be assessed through these reviews, and as a consequence it is not possible to state the extent to which green belts will be amended.


Next Section Index Home Page