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Session 2007 - 08
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General Committee Debates
Planning Bill

Planning Bill

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairmen: Sir John Butterfill, † Mr. Eric Illsley
Benyon, Mr. Richard (Newbury) (Con)
Betts, Mr. Clive (Sheffield, Attercliffe) (Lab)
Brake, Tom (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) (Lab)
Curry, Mr. David (Skipton and Ripon) (Con)
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Duddridge, James (Rochford and Southend, East) (Con)
Ellman, Mrs. Louise (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op)
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley, East and Mexborough) (Lab)
Fitzpatrick, Jim (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport)
Healey, John (Minister for Local Government)
Jones, Mr. David (Clwyd, West) (Con)
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui (Beckenham) (Con)
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy) (PC)
Michael, Alun (Cardiff, South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op)
Mole, Chris (Ipswich) (Lab)
Neill, Robert (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con)
Reed, Mr. Jamie (Copeland) (Lab)
Rogerson, Dan (North Cornwall) (LD)
Sheridan, Jim (Paisley and Renfrewshire, North) (Lab)
Watts, Mr. Dave (Lord Commissioner of Her Majesty's Treasury)
Alan Sandall, Committee Clerk
† attended the Committee

Public Bill Committee

Thursday 24 January 2008


[Mr. Eric Illsley in the Chair]

Planning Bill

9.1 am
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick): On a point of order, Mr. Illsley. It was brought to my attention that I gave out some potentially misleading information about the proposed harbours threshold in Tuesday’s debate on amendments Nos. 81 and 82.
I referred in my response to the analysis and modelling carried out by the Department which supported the proposed thresholds. I now understand that, while analysis was done through broad assessments before the proposed thresholds were set, it did not include any formal modelling. Modelling carries a specific technical meaning that does not apply in this case.
I hope that that clarification is helpful to the Committee, in the interest of setting the record straight. I apologise if my comment caused any misunderstanding. I have written to Sir John, the Clerk and the hon. Members for Rochford and Southend, East and for Beckenham.
Mr. David Jones (Clwyd, West) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Illsley. I previously raised the matter of the Welsh framework clauses that are to be included in the Bill. I understand from discussions via the usual channels that it is now proposed that the new clauses will not be produced until towards the end of the discussion of the Bill. My concern is that the new framework powers may have an impact on other provisions that have already been discussed. I seek your guidance Mr. Illsley, as to whether that is a proper method of proceeding, given the impact it may well have had on previous discussions.
The Chairman: I am grateful to the Minister for his intervention and correction.
With regard to the Welsh clauses, I am advised that as there are no new clauses on that matter yet, it is not a point of order for me. However, I am sure that the Government will have noted what the hon. Member for Clwyd, West said, and perhaps discussions through the usual channels might elicit further information. Unfortunately, it is not a point of order for me.

Clause 38

Local authorities for purposes of section 37(1)(b)
Amendments made: No. 51, in clause 38, page 18, line 33, leave out ‘district council’ and insert ‘county council, or district council,’.
No. 52, in clause 38, page 18, leave out lines 34 and 35.—[John Healey.]
Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.
Mrs. Jacqui Lait (Beckenham) (Con): I have a brief question. We have agreed to amendments that add county councils to the clause. The thought crosses my mind as to why unitary and metropolitan local authorities are not listed as well. If the Minister gives a quick answer to that point, I will be happy to move on.
The Minister for Local Government (John Healey): Of course I will. This issue was touched on when it was raised by the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon in an earlier debate. The short answer is that, for the purposes of legislation, those authorities are already covered under the councils that are included in the Bill. Our concern was about two-tier areas, where county councils are also involved. That is why we tabled the amendments.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 38, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 39

Categories for purposes of section 37(1)(d)
Dan Rogerson (North Cornwall) (LD): I beg to move amendment No. 170, in clause 39, page 19, line 5, at end insert ‘, or adjacent land’.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 171, in clause 39, page 19, line 8, at end insert ‘adjacent land, or’.
No. 172, in clause 39, page 19, line 10, at end insert ‘adjacent land, or’.
No. 173, in clause 39, page 19, line 11, at end insert ‘or adjacent land’.
Dan Rogerson: I welcome you back to the Chair, Mr. Illsley, and back to our deliberations about various clauses, where they will appear and the important issues under consideration.
The amendment would add “adjacent land” to the provisions of the clause. We are talking not about loft conversions, but about fairly major developments. It may be clearly understood by most that people with an interest in property and land adjoining a development will be consulted, but I am not sure that the clause is clear enough about who should be involved in the consultation.
The amendment would ensure that the provisions for people who have any of the interests set out in the clause because of land that is directly affected also apply to those who have an interest in neighbouring land. Clearly, there will be differences in what counts as adjacent land. If there is a large holding, adjacent land could be a considerable distance away from the development or it could be relatively close. I want to explore whether the ministerial team can justify not including the amendment, in the hope that anybody who will be affected by such a development will have the opportunity to be fully involved in the consultation.
Mrs. Lait: Welcome back, Mr. Illsley. You sound a lot better than you did on Tuesday.
I will add some comments in support of the amendment. We have made it clear that we are concerned that consultation is as wide and proper as possible. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that anybody who could be understood to have an interest in the development is consulted and can make representations. On that basis, we support it.
John Healey: I hope that I can give the sort of explanation that has been asked for and that the hon. Members for North Cornwall and for Beckenham will see that the amendment is not necessary to meet their concerns.
In addition to clause 42 on the duty to consult the local community, clauses 37 to 39 set out a duty to consult people and bodies that would be affected by a development. That includes local authorities and anybody who might be entitled to a claim for compensation or for nuisance. Where a development would have a material detrimental effect on adjacent land, those with an interest will automatically be consulted.
As the Committee is aware, there is a broad power to prescribe statutory consultees. My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe will be interested to know that we will specify statutory consultees for certain sorts of infrastructure—we had the same argument about local transport authorities in our previous sitting.
The regulations will ensure that those bodies that should be consulted will be consulted, although we will not require consultation if they are unlikely to have an interest. In drawing up the draft regulations, I will ensure that we consider the points made by members of this Committee.
The hon. Members for North Cornwall and for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy were concerned about whether those living close to a development that could be detrimental would be consulted. The answer is that under common law, people in possession of property—landowners or tenants—are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their land. If someone interferes with that quiet enjoyment by creating smells, sounds, pollution or any other hazard that extends beyond the boundaries of the property on which that activity is taking place, the affected party may be able to claim on the grounds of nuisance.
Clause 35(5)(c) provides that such people should be consulted. Together with other provisions in the Bill, it will capture the vast majority of people about whom the hon. Member for North Cornwall is concerned. I hope that that reassures hon. Members.
Dan Rogerson: I am grateful for the Minister’s reply. However, he has not reassured me. I am clear that the clause sets out specific definitions of what constitutes a nuisance and he said that it would capture the vast majority of people affected, but we need to legislate for everyone.
John Healey: I was conscious that we should not double back over ground that we have already covered, but people living in the vicinity who would not be statutory consultees will be included in the pre-application consultation and be able to put their views to the promoter, who will carry out the publicity. They will also have the opportunity to put their views to the infrastructure planning commission when it considers the application. I hope that the hon. Gentleman understands and accepts that point.
Dan Rogerson: There are clear provisions in clause 39 for people who have an interest in the land, but people who are not resident in the area may also have an interest. The same provisions should also apply to those who have adjacent land who may not be directly aware of what is going on in the community, although they have a long-standing interest because of ownership of adjacent land or other rights to it.
The Government have felt it necessary to apply the provisions to those who have a direct interest in the land affected, which implies that things may be going on above and beyond the standard consultation. If that is so, and extra effort is being made to ensure that pre-application publicity reaches people who may not reside in the area but have an interest in the land, I am concerned that the proposal is not extended to people who have an interest in adjacent land. I am thinking of cases of people or associations who own patches of land that they do not visit very often, therefore they would not see notices or publicity in the local paper. The Minister has not reassured me on those matters.
9.15 am
Question put, That the amendment be made:—
The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 12.
Division No. 9 ]
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Curry, rh Mr. David
Jones, Mr. David
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Rogerson, Dan
Betts, Mr. Clive
Clark, Paul
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Healey, John
Michael, rh Alun
Mole, Chris
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Sheridan, Jim
Watts, Mr. Dave
Question accordingly negatived.
Clause 39 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
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Prepared 25 January 2008