Planning Bill


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Clause 151

Determination of applications for certificates of lawful use or development by officers
Amendments made: No. 457, in clause 151, page 76, line 2, leave out ‘under subsection (1)(a)’ and insert ‘by them under this section’.
No. 458, in clause 151, page 76, line 5, leave out ‘subsection (1)(a)’ and insert ‘this section’.
No. 459, in clause 151, page 76, line 11, leave out ‘subsection (1)(a)’ and insert ‘this section’.
No. 460, in clause 151, page 76, line 30, leave out ‘subsection (1)(a) of’.
No. 461, in clause 151, page 76, line 34, at end insert—
‘(a) ’.
No. 462, in clause 151, page 76, line 36, at end insert—
‘(b) by a local planning authority, or a committee or sub-committee of such an authority, acting by virtue of section 193A(6).’.
No. 463, in clause 151, page 76, leave out from ‘particular’ in line 37 to end of line 44 and insert—
‘(a) disapply or modify any provision of, or made under, sections 191 to 193 in relation to such an application;
(b) impose requirements on the officer, authority, committee or sub-committee determining such an application.’.
No. 464, in clause 151, page 77, leave out lines 19 to 23 and insert—
‘(5) Subsections (5A) and (5B) apply where a local planning authority has reviewed a case under this section.
(5A) If and so far as the local planning authority is satisfied that the officer’s refusal is well-founded, the authority must uphold the decision under review.
(5B) If and so far as the local planning authority is satisfied that the officer’s refusal is not well-founded, the authority must—
(a) grant the applicant a certificate under section 191 or, as the case may be, 192, or
(b) in the case of a refusal in part, modify the certificate granted by the officer.’.
No. 465, in clause 151, page 78, leave out from ‘particular’ in line 4 to end of line 6 and insert—
‘(a) disapply or modify any provision of, or made under, sections 191 to 193 in relation to such an application;
(b) impose requirements on the local planning authority determining such an application.’.
No. 466, in clause 151, page 78, line 23, leave out from ‘if’ to end of line 27 and insert ‘—
(a) the local planning authority—
(i) have been required under section 193C to review the case, and
(ii) have failed to complete their review by the end of the period prescribed by regulations made by virtue of section 193C(4)(e), or
(b) the local planning authority have been required under section 193D to determine the application.’.—[Mr. Dhanda.]
Clause 151, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 152

Validity of decisions made on reviews
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Robert Neill: I have a brief question for the Minister. Is my reading of subsection (3) correct, and am I right in thinking that the effect of proposed new section 286A is that there will be just two grounds for seeking a review by the High Court: either ultra vires or on the grounds of deficiency of process? That excludes any question of unreasonableness in terms of the Wednesbury decision. That question may well be excluded for perfectly good reasons, but for the purposes of clarity, am I right in thinking that that is the case?
Mr. Dhanda: Yes, that is the case, although there are other grounds for appeal, where one can go to the Secretary of State, as I described a few moments ago.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 152 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 153

Determination of listed building applications by officers
Amendments made: No. 467, in clause 153, page 79, line 38, leave out ‘under subsection (1)(a)’ and insert ‘by them under this section’.
No. 468, in clause 153, page 79, line 41, leave out ‘subsection (1)(a)’ and insert ‘this section’.
No. 469, in clause 153, page 80, line 4, leave out ‘subsection (1)(a)’ and insert ‘this section’.
No. 470, in clause 153, page 80, line 23, leave out ‘subsection (1)(a) of’.
No. 471, in clause 153, page 80, line 39, after ‘application’ insert—
‘(a) ’.
No. 472, in clause 153, page 80, line 41, at end insert—
‘(b) by a local planning authority, or a committee or sub-committee of such an authority, acting by virtue of section 19A(6).’.
No. 473, in clause 153, page 80, leave out from ‘particular’ in line 42 to end of line 2 on page 81 and insert—
‘(a) disapply or modify any provision of, or made under, this Chapter in relation to such an application;
(b) impose requirements on the officer, authority, committee or sub-committee determining such an application.’.—[Mr. Dhanda.]
Mr. Dhanda: I beg to move amendment No. 474, in clause 153, page 81, line 23, at end insert—
‘(da) requiring a local planning authority reviewing a case to have special regard to the matters specified in section 16(2);’.
The amendment will enable the regulations made by the Secretary of State on reviews of listed building applications carried out by a local member review body to require the body reviewing the case to have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building, its setting or any features of special architectural or historical interest that it possesses. The amendment would therefore enable a review of a listed building application under proposed new section 19C of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 to be consistent with consideration of listed building applications by local planning authorities or the Secretary of State under existing legislation.
5.30 pm
Mr. David Curry (Skipton and Ripon) (Con): Will regard also be given to any special habitat features of the building? I have a listed barn which is supposed to be one of the best 17th-century barns in Essex. It would have been dead easy to get the council to give me permission to put six houses there, but I restored it and I had to go to great lengths to preserve two rare species of bats that lived in the barn. I am proud to have done so; the bats and I are great friends, and the muck they drop on the floor makes extremely good horticultural dressing for my vegetable garden. It is an entirely recycled system, which is helping to save the planet.
We are all concerned about the future of owls and their habitat, and I want to ensure that one cannot knock down something that is the habitat of a species we are anxious to preserve.
Mr. Dhanda: I welcome back the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon and wonder whether he should declare an interest before making a contribution. I will have to check what happens if the habitat is part of the listed status, and I will clarify the position in writing to him. I shall be interested to know the answer, too.
Mr. Curry: I doubt whether it will be part of listed status, because the building could have been listed some time ago and the habitat could have developed subsequently. This is not a joke; it is a serious matter and I should be grateful if the Minister made some inquiries about it.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 475, in clause 153, page 82, leave out from ‘particular’ in line 17 to end of line 19 and insert—
‘(a) disapply or modify any provision of, or made under, this Chapter in relation to such an application;
(b) impose requirements on the local planning authority determining such an application.’.
No. 476, in clause 153, page 82, line 32, leave out from ‘if’ to end of line 35 and insert ‘—
(a) the local planning authority—
(i) have been required under section 19C to review the case, and
(ii) have failed to complete their review by the end of the period prescribed by regulations made by virtue of section 19C(4)(f), or
(b) the local planning authority have been required under section 19D to determine the application.’.—[Mr. Dhanda.]
Clause 153, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 154 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 155

Removal of right to compensation where notice given of withdrawal of planning permission
Mrs. Lait: I beg to move amendment No. 415, in clause 155, page 83, line 20, after second ‘development’, insert ‘within the curtilage of a dwelling house’.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment
No. 535, in clause 155, page 83, line 28, at end add—
‘(3C) This section shall not apply to permitted development rights under Part 5 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995.”.’.
Our concern is that at present, article 4 directions apply to more than just the small house owner. They apply in the agricultural sector, forestry, industrial development, minerals, drainage works, aviation, schools, colleges and hospitals. If the right to compensation is withdrawn should a local planning authority decide to change its mind, it affects not just the house builder but a much wider audience.
The National Farmers Union has been very active in setting out for us the case as it affects farmers. On the one hand, the Government are trying to be more permissive and to make it easier for people to develop under permitted rights. On the other, the blanket application of this clause will have a negative impact on the areas that I have already set out, because it will make it much more difficult for farmers in other areas to develop their business without knowing that they are within their rights for permitted development. A local planning authority could change its mind and, given the pressure that farmers are under at the moment to diversify, they will find that there is no right to compensation.
We want to get a feel from the Government as to whether they have any sympathy at all for the plight of people who could be affected by this change in permitted development. I readily admit that if there is some sympathy and the Government are prepared to look at the matter further, I will not press the amendment. The wording may need to be changed, but we should like to hear the Minister’s view on the principle here.
Mr. Elfyn Llwyd (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy) (PC): I note that the Bill includes the usual section 19 reference to human rights compatibility. Is it right for such a clause to be stand part of the Bill? If my reading is correct, planning permission could have been validly given at some point by the necessary authority. It could then be withdrawn, albeit with 12 months’ notice, and no compensation would be paid for the diminution in the business and/or the loss of that facility. I am not sure whether that is contrary to the Human Rights Act as I understand it.
In any event, as a matter of good common sense, if someone loses an asset through no fault of their own, but as a direct result of an administrative action by an authority, surely basic understanding of administrative law leads one to think that there has to be a right to compensation. Otherwise, people could be ruined overnight through no fault of their own. This is rather serious. Unless I have misread the clause, it appears to be an extremely serious proposal.
The clause amends the right to compensation so as to enable changes to be made to restrict permitted development without incurring liability for compensation. I will give some examples of that in a moment. Existing legislation provides that local planning authorities are liable to pay compensation for 12 months after permitted development rights are withdrawn. Hon. Members can probably understand where that has come from.
I will give an example. If Westminster city council did not want the residents of every house on a given street to convert their front lawns into driveways, it could implement article 4, saying that it is against the rules for anyone to do so. Residents locally could say that they were planning to do that, and they would have 12 months to apply for compensation.
The changes that we are making to the clause will make it possible for local authorities to say, “Actually, in 12 months’ time, we will implement this change, so if you really want to concrete over your front drive, you have 12 months to do it. Therefore, you will not get compensation.” In many cases, so local government has told us, people who had no intention of concreting over their front drives applied for the compensation, saying that they had planned to do so. That is the bare bones of the intention behind the provision.
Mr. Llwyd: That is obviously a case where everyone would be in sympathy with the Government in making the change. I am asking whether the clause extends more broadly to larger permitted developments. Farmers are often allowed to put up large byres or to convert a grain store for further business use, whatever it might be. A substantial body of permitted development is allowed under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for people engaged in full-time agriculture. Would the provision affect them in some way?
I do not think that anyone would argue with the example that the Minister gave, but the concern of the NFU and others would be whether existing permitted developments were to be denied without compensation. Let us say that I, as a farmer, put up a grain store, which I am entitled to do under permitted development. I start my business and 12 months’ hence, I find that I am not allowed to pull it down. That is my reading of the provision. I hope that I am wrong, but clearly the question of compensation ought to be considered.
Mr. Dhanda: I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that the Bill has been human rights-proofed and checked. I am happy to come back to him in a few moments, when I will spell out a little more what the clause does and does not do, but for now I want to make some progress.
Existing legislation provides that local planning authorities are liable to pay compensation for 12 months after permitted development rights are withdrawn. That might occur when a planning application to carry out what had been permitted development is either turned down or granted subject to conditions. A local planning authority might require planning applications for loft extensions, for example, in order to protect the appearance of an area. The legislation applies whether the change is made by a planning authority withdrawing rights locally, or by Government changes to national permitted development rights.
5.45 pm
The clause is part of the Government’s general policy to give greater flexibility to local planning authorities to tailor permitted development rights more closely to local circumstances, within a generally more permissive regime. That will allow local authorities to protect specific areas from unsuitable development. The clause will provide an alternative procedure that allows restrictive charges to be made without compensation being payable. I hope that I have answered the hon. Gentleman’s point.
If there are any developments that will no longer be permitted for compensation terms, there will still be 12 months for those developments to be fulfilled. To ensure that people whose permitted development rights have been removed do not incur abortive expenditure, the clause requires that at least 12 month’s notice is given of the change. The 12-month notice period should ensure that such costs are avoided, so that people will be no worse off than under the existing scheme.
Amendment No. 415 would limit the alternative compensation arrangement to changes relating to householder development only. However, the purpose of the clause is to deliver greater flexibility to amend permitted development rights generally. That will allow local authorities greater freedom to do what is necessary to protect particular areas by means of what are known as article 4 directions.
The clause is necessary to protect particular areas, given the Government’s intention to provide a generally more permissive national framework. I have also explained that, given the 12 month’s notice required before a change comes into effect, developers will not lose out. Under the new mechanism, they will have 12 months to carry out the work.
The existing system will remain in place in parallel. However, we want to ensure that restrictions are made only when necessary and that people who might be affected have a chance to make their views known. I hope that that is of relevance to the hon. Gentleman. We intend to strengthen the procedures of article 4 directions. In the future, local authorities will be required to consult those people who are likely to be affected by a direction. Representations will have to be taken into account before an article 4 direction can be made. Similarly, any proposed Government restrictions will be subject to public consultation.
Amendment No. 535 would remove any right to compensation for restrictions made to permitted development rights that relate to caravan sites. I have already explained that, in general, we want to make it easier for permitted development rights to be withdrawn where necessary. However, I believe that those who enjoy such rights deserve some protection where that might happen. The Government approach that would ensure a 12-month period of notice before rights are removed or a 12-month right to compensation being payable is fair across the board. I see no reason to single out any form of permitted development—whether caravans or something else—to be subject to different treatment.
With regard to proposals that affect other types of development—for example, farms—I understand what the hon. Gentleman is saying, but I can already name rights that have been withdrawn under the old system where compensation had to be paid for 12 months. Under the new alternative, there will be 12 months to carry out that work, unlike under the existing system. The hon. Gentleman still looks somewhat perplexed; I am quite happy to hear anything more that he has to say.
Mr. Llwyd: The Minister is doing his best to assist us, but I am still not fully au fait with what he is saying. Let us say that there is permitted use of some agricultural land for a certain period each year for touring caravans and camping. That would add considerably to the value of the holding. It is also in accordance with what we are all trying to encourage—diversification and so on. If the Minister is suggesting that we could say, “Well, in 12 months’ time, you won’t be allowed to site anything on that land, but we’ll only pay 12 months’ compensation”, that does not seem to be much of a bargain from the farmer’s point of view if, for example, that holding had depended on that summer income for its viability for the past 10 or more years. I understand most of what the Minister says, but I do not think that 12 months’ compensation is an adequate basis for that type of example. Such a system could make the difference between a small holding being viable and having to sell up, move to a town and give up farming altogether.
Mr. Dhanda: The hon. Gentleman and I may be at something of a crossed line here. I am talking not about 12 months of compensation, but about a specific development and having 12 months within which to build that development—a slightly different set of circumstances from what the hon. Gentleman is talking about.
Local authorities can already use article 4 to tell a farmer, for example, “This is not allowed on your land.” However, we are talking about development, so that if the farmer wishes to have a development on his land, it is not a case of taking anything away from him, but of saying to him and to people across a wider area, “This is what we intend to do; this is what we intend to prohibit; you have 12 months in which to do it.” In the past, there would have been a case of compensation if a farmer had said, “Well actually, it was my plan to do that here on this site, but you have invoked article 4, so I therefore cannot do it anymore.”
Mr. Benyon: I declare an interest as a farmer. If the Minister remembers back a few years, the buzz word in Government was “rural proofing” and every aspect of Government policy had to be rural-proofed. [Interruption.] Indeed. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth was responsible for that. Has the Minister run this past his colleagues in DEFRA? Certain local authorities are itching to grab hold of the whole general development order process, to stop farmers from expanding their businesses in just the way that the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy was describing. I fear that, in some areas, one of which is not far from my constituency, the local authority would stifle the development of businesses in precisely the opposite direction to that in which the Minister’s colleagues in DEFRA are taking it.
Mr. Dhanda: I am going to bring my comments to a conclusion, because I think that we have had a useful debate, but I hope that I have been able to allay hon. Members’ fears, as article 4 directions are already in existence. As I have said, the local authorities can say that a certain kind of development will be prohibited and then local people—whether farmers or other residents—can say, “I want compensation because I had planned to do that.” This measure gives another option to local authorities, whereby they can say, “We wish to prohibit this kind of development, but if you wish to go ahead with it, you have 12 months to do so.” That is probably a fair position to be in.
Mrs. Lait: I must apologise to the Committee, because in my eagerness to be brief, I was not clear, so I am grateful to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy and my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury for giving graphic examples that clarify the situation. I am still unconvinced by the Minister’s argument. In essence, he is making it easier for local authorities to take away a permitted right, so the proposal is permissive for local authorities, but it is absolutely not permissive for those people who are predicating a business plan, which may last for more than a year, on permitted development rights that they have and have taken for granted that they would have. I accept what he says about local authorities being able to take permitted rights away, but they have to pay compensation. The proposal limits that compensation. I will read what the Minister said carefully, but my gut feeling is that I will not be happy and that we may well have to return to this.
Mr. Dhanda: It is worth adding that it is a requirement for local authorities to consult as well, when they are planning any of these article 4 changes. That is important in this context. Article 4 already exists, but under the new interpretation and given 12-month period, any change would require local discussion.
Mrs. Lait: I am grateful to the Minister for elucidating that point, but it does not answer what my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury said about a local authority that is itching to gets its hands on those rights. We can consult till the cows come home, but if that local authority is determined to extinguish those rights, the Government are giving them that ability, however hard they insist on consultation. I do not wish to prolong the debate any further, unless the Minister has something new and revelatory to say. On the basis that we may wish to return to the issue later, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 155 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
 
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