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Planning Obligations

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether monies collected under section 106 agreements can be used to pay for infrastructure projects other than those specified in the original agreement. [227345]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Secretary of State's policy on planning obligations is set out in Government Circular 05/05, which is available in the Library of the House. The Secretary of State's policy says that planning obligations (also known as section 106 agreements) can be attached to a planning permission to make acceptable development which would otherwise be unacceptable in planning terms. Such obligations can prescribe the nature of development, compensate for loss or damage created by a development, or mitigate a development's impact. Planning obligations must be directly relevant to the
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proposed development. However, the impacts of a proposed development may extend beyond the immediate development site and therefore, developer contributions can be used to mitigate these off-site.

Contributions may either be in kind or in the form of a financial contribution. Policies on types of payment, including pooling and maintenance payments, should be set out in local development frameworks. There should be a clear audit trail between the contribution made and the infrastructure provided. The use of developer contributions under section 106 agreements should reflect the purpose for which they were collected and be directly relevant to the proposed development. Therefore, monies collected under section 106 agreements should not be used to pay for infrastructure which was not intended by the original agreement. Planning obligations should never be used purely as a means of securing for the local community a share in the profits of development. The policy indicates that in the event that contributions are made towards specific infrastructure provision but the infrastructure is not provided within an agreed timeframe, arrangements should be made for contributions to be returned to developers. Local planning authorities must take the Secretary of State's policy into account and have reasons for departing from it.

Planning Permission: Northamptonshire

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many units of housing were given planning permission in Northamptonshire in each of the last three years for which figures are available. [227634]

Mr. Iain Wright: Local planning authorities (LPAs) submit returns to CLG on the number of planning decisions on major and minor residential developments, including percentage of decisions approved and the percentage approved within targets. However these returns do not include the number of housing units covered by each decision.

In order to gain the information requested, the Government office east midlands has therefore approached the LPAs direct. In aggregating the figures for the number of housing units granted planning permission each year, some authorities have supplied net figures (i.e. excluding renewals or amendments of sites that already have planning permission). Where outline planning permission has been granted, the number of units is not always stated in the planning application and an assessment has to be made of the capacity of a site. This means that the statistics provided are not always on a common base.

The following table includes the returns for each district in Northamptonshire.


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Local planning authority Housing units granted planning permission 2005-06 Housing units granted planning permission 2006/07 Housing unit s granted planning permission 2 007-08

Corby

658

5889

143

Daventry

324

101

119

East Northamptonshire

359

244

111

Kettering

772

859

597

Northampton

646

500

693

South Northamptonshire

306

208

216

Wellingborough

563

257

3,710

Total

3,628

8,058

5,589


The figures for Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire include any applications approved by the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation who handle some major housing applications in these areas.

Planning: Sports

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what account her Department takes of the public health benefit of developments that encourage physical activity and sport in designing planning policy. [228694]

Mr. Iain Wright: The promotion of public health and well-being is a central component of the Government’s objectives for sustainable development. “Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development” (PPS1) which sets out the overarching planning policy in England, requires development plans to support the promotion of health and well-being by making provision for physical activity, and to address accessibility for all members of the community to leisure and community facilities.

Specific guidance on how local authorities should plan for new sports and recreational facilities to meet the needs of local communities is set out in “Planning Policy Guidance note 17: Planning for open space, sport and recreation” (PPG 17).

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what account will be taken of the public health benefit of developments that promote physical activity and sport in designating exemptions from the Community Infrastructure Levy. [228695]

Mr. Iain Wright: As my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government (John Healey) stated when the Planning Bill was in Commons Committee, our principal starting point is that almost all developments will have some imposition and impact on the need for infrastructure, and some call on local services or amenities—including those developments that promote public health, physical activity and sport. For instance, a new swimming pool or sports centre will have impacts upon the local road network. In addition, exemptions to, or reductions from, CIL may cause complexity and distortion and reduce fairness. Therefore, the Government envisage that most types of development will be liable to pay CIL.

The Government will however consider the case for exemptions when consulting on the regulations to implement CIL, and will set out the exemptions available in the final regulations. Any exemptions we create must be legally robust and based on coherent criteria, such as those set out at page 60 of the CIL policy document published in August.

Our document is available at:

Powers of Entry

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many powers of entry her Department and its predecessors have (a) introduced in legislation and (b) repealed since 1997. [228619]

Mr. Khan: I refer the right hon. and learned Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Mr. Coaker) on 7 October 2008, Official Report, column 577W.

Regional Planning and Development: Renewable Energy

Mr. Kemp: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) if she will assess the effect of the implementation of the Government's Green Belt policy and Planning Policy Guidance 2 on policies which aim to tackle climate change by promoting small-scale renewable energy projects such as domestic wind turbines; [228399]

(2) whether she plans to review the planning policy regulations as they apply to small-scale renewable energy projects in the green belt. [228400]

Mr. Iain Wright: This summer's consultation on the Government's Renewable Energy Strategy (RES) has looked at how the UK is to achieve its share of the target that 20 per cent. of the EU's energy consumption must come from renewable sources by 2020. The RES explains that the substantial switch to renewables in the timescale required cannot be achieved without the right response from the planning system. National planning policies already expect regional and local planners to actively plan for and support renewable energy generation. The RES acknowledges however that it may not always be clear to local planning authorities, applicants and other users how elements of this framework come together in any given case. We have therefore said we will ensure our planning policies for renewable energy are updated quickly to reflect the new RES when in place next year.

Planning Policy Statement 22 on renewable energy already makes it clear that the very special circumstances required to justify the grant of planning permission for inappropriate development in a green belt may include the wider environmental benefits associated with increased production of energy from renewable sources. Planning authorities have also been advised not to reject planning applications simply because the level of output is small.

Separately, we are also freeing up from the need to apply for planning permission those small-scale renewable energy projects that can be supported as permitted development. In April 2008 amendments were made to the General Permitted Development Order which enable small-scale domestic microgeneration development including solar ground and water-source heat pumps, biomass heating and combined heat and power systems to proceed without the need for a specific planning application. Further amendments are planned for micro
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wind turbines and air source heat pumps once the issue of potential nuisance to neighbours from noise has been resolved. We are also considering the scope for extending permitted development rights to non-domestic small-scale renewables.

Regional Planning and Development: Retail Trade

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what research she has (a) commissioned, (b) evaluated and (c) undertaken on the effects of planning regulation upon small independent retailers; and whether such research includes analysis of the effects of large-scale, out-of-town developments on small retailers. [227614]

Mr. Iain Wright: Our “Proposed Changes to Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for town centres”, published for consultation on 10 July 2008, which seeks to improve the effectiveness of our town centre policy and strengthen our policy protection for small shops, and the vitality and viability of town centres, was accompanied by a detailed assessment of the impact of our proposals and the supporting evidence base. The assessment takes account of a number of studies, particularly the Parliamentary All Party Small Shops Group report “High Street Britain: 2015”, published in 2006, and the detailed analysis by the Competition Commission groceries market investigation into the extent to which there are distortions in competition between large grocery retailers and convenience store operators. Our assessment has also drawn upon a number of other studies to inform our proposals, including:

Trade Unions

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many civil servants in her Department were seconded to work for (a) trade unions and (b) the Trades Union Congress in each year since its inception. [229111]

Mr. Khan: Since the inception of Communities and Local Government on 5 May 2006, the Department has seconded one civil servant to a trade union.

Urban Areas: Regeneration

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of development corporations in meeting their objectives. [227635]

Mr. Iain Wright: There are three Urban Development Corporations (UDCs) in England: London Thames Gateway Development Corporation; Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation; and West
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Northamptonshire Development Corporation. All three are executive non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) sponsored by Communities and Local Government whose performance is assessed through the Corporate Plan, Business Plan and Annual Report process.

All three UDCs have recently had their Corporate Plans signed off by Ministers. The Corporate Plans establish the strategic direction, investment priorities and delivery targets of the Corporations for the next three years (2008-09 to 2010-11).

Under the terms of their management statement each UDC is scheduled to undergo a full review after five years. The reviews for all three UDCs are scheduled to take place in 2009.

Culture, Media and Sport

Animal Welfare

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether his Department (a) promotes and (b) funds the promotion of days or weeks dedicated to animal welfare. [227735]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Department does not promote or fund the promotion of days or weeks dedicated to animal welfare.

Arts

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which regional development agencies have established regional beacons for the creative industries; and what the cost of doing so has been for each. [227174]

Barbara Follett: Seven Regional Development Agencies are part of the project for a network of beacons for creative industries business support leads. Those involved are; South East Regional Development Agency; South West Regional Development Agency; East Midlands Regional Development Agency; West Midlands Regional Development Agency; Yorkshire Forward; North-West Regional Development Agency; and One North-East. The costs of running the project during 2008-09 is approximately £80,000.

Arts: Greater London

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps his Department has taken to better champion London's creative festivals. [227182]

Barbara Follett: In February this year the Government published ‘Creative Britain, New Talents for the New Economy', our strategy for the creative industries. Following discussions with representatives of the office of the Mayor of London and other partners, the strategy set out a shared aspiration to champion London's many creative festivals and forge better, mutually beneficial links with important festivals around the country.

‘Creative Britain' also expresses the Government's strong support for established London festivals such as the London Film Festival, London Fashion Week, the London Games Festival, London Design Week and the Frieze Art Fair.


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Christmas

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many Christmas functions (a) he, (b) officials from his Department and (c) officials from its executive agencies (i) hosted and (ii) attended in 2007-08; what the cost to the public purse was; and if he will make a statement. [226964]

Andy Burnham: The then Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (James Purnell), hosted a Christmas reception for the Department's non-departmental public bodies in December 2007, at a cost of £11,600; and a reception for journalists at a cost of £1,637. He attended 10 Christmas functions in total while in post.

The annual staff party at DCMS is self-funded by staff, and any profits made are donated to the DCMS Civil Service Sports & Social Club account. Information on functions that DCMS officials attended or hosted could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The Department has only one executive agency, The Royal Parks (TRP). The TRP held an annual staff Christmas party in 2007. This was paid for by TRP directors and not the public purse. All TRP staff were also invited to the winter wonderland fair in Hyde park by the organizer of the event. A further seven Christmas functions attended by a TRP staff member were recorded in the Agency's hospitality register. There was no cost to the public purse.


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