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6 Jan 2010 : Column 379W—continued

Mining: Planning Permission

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of local authorities have produced finalised mineral core strategies. [308261]

Mr. Ian Austin: Some 15 of the 95 anticipated mineral core strategies, or core strategies with a minerals element, have been adopted to date. This represents 16 per cent. of the overall anticipated figure. We expect about a further 50 to be published during 2010 and 2011.

In addition, we estimate that approximately 35 mineral planning authorities are expected to produce mineral development plan documents (DPDs) by the end of 2011, to deal with specific issues and sites, rather than addressing minerals in detail in the core strategy.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment has been made of the level of availability of mortgages to first-time home-buyers who are unable to provide a substantive deposit. [307886]

Mr. Ian Austin: Mortgage availability for first time buyers with a deposit of 10 per cent. or less has increased since spring 2009. According to Moneyfacts, in November 2009 there were 118 mortgage products available at 90 per cent. LTV or higher and nine at 95 per cent. LTV or higher, compared to 85 at 90 per cent. LTV or higher and three at 95 per cent. LTV or higher in April 2009.

Mortgages: Government Assistance

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many residents in (a) the London Borough of Bexley, (b) Greater London and (c) England have received support through the Mortgage Rescue Scheme. [308847]

John Healey: The Mortgage Rescue Scheme has been operational across England since January 2009. As part of the monitoring arrangements for the scheme, headline data for January to September 2009, provided by local authorities operating the scheme and broken down by Government Office Region, are available on the Department's website. The figures can be assessed using the following link:

Figures reported by local authorities from January to September 2009 are provided in a table, which has been placed in the Library of the House.

In the current economic conditions, we have acted rapidly to put in place help and support for households struggling with their mortgage at every stage: from free debt advice when problems start, to free support for cases that reach court. Advice is available to all households struggling with their mortgage, with targeted schemes for those in most need.

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Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 8 December 2009, Official Report, column 306W, on mortgages: Government assistance, whether he has identified the priority areas in respect of the Mortgage Protection Scheme. [309192]

John Healey: Further to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) on 8 December 2009, Official Report, columns 306-07W, 56 areas have been identified as priority areas as part of the preventing repossessions awareness campaign.

These are currently:

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Multiple Occupation: Licensing

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer of 28 October 2009, Official Report, column 472W, on multiple occupation: licensing, on what date he plans to publish the report by the Building Research Establishment. [305100]

Mr. Ian Austin: We aim to publish the Building Research Establishment (BRE) Report in the next couple of months.

Newham Homes

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what assessment was made by the Housing Corporation before its abolition of the work undertaken by Newham Homes; [308312]

(2) if he will require the Tenant Services Authority to undertake an investigation into the appropriateness of the level of service charges being levied by Newham Homes on its leaseholders in Brentwood. [308313]

Mr. Ian Austin: Newham Homes is an arm's length management organisation (ALMO) and not a registered social landlord. As a result of this, no assessment of Newham Homes has been made by either the TSA or its predecessor body, the Housing Corporation.

Tenant Services Authority's remit will not extend to the whole social housing sector until its remaining powers under the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 are commenced in April 2010. This legislation will not provide for the regulation of leasehold properties including those that are managed by social landlords.

However, where leaseholders believe that a demand for service charges is unreasonable they have the right to ask a Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to determine the reasonableness of the demand.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what targets his Department has set for repair and renovation of the housing stock owned by Newham Homes. [308329]

Mr. Ian Austin: Newham Homes manages the housing stock owned by the London borough of Newham.

Newham Homes currently receives capital funding under the ALMO programme to repair and maintain the housing stock that it manages.

The ALMO is undertaking an investment programme agreed with its local authority, the Department and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). The capital funding will enable it to achieve the Decent Homes Standard by 2011-12. The HCA was set up on 1 December 2008 and has day-to-day responsibility for delivery of the Decent Homes programme.

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Non-Domestic Rates: Empty Property

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent estimate he has made of the additional net revenue raised from reductions in empty property business rate relief in each year since 2007-08; and what estimate he has made of the change in revenue arising from the end to the lower threshold from April 2010. [308418]

Barbara Follett: The impact assessment of the reforms to the Empty Property business rate relief which came into force on 1 April 2008 estimated that these would increase net tax yields by £950 million in 2008-09, £900 million in 2009-10 and £900 million every year thereafter. The full impact assessment can be seen at:

Data on the amount of Empty Property Relief actually paid out are collected annually from local authorities. However, changes in these amounts will not only be due to the recent reforms; other factors like the number, type and value of empty hereditaments will also play their part.

In 2009-10 all empty properties with rateable values up to £15,000 are eligible for full relief from business rates-70 per cent. of all properties are under this threshold and, if empty, are not liable for rates in 2009-10. This temporary measure is providing real help to owners to manage short-term pressures in a difficult property market.

No estimate has been made of the change in revenue arising from the end to the temporary reform of the empty property relief scheme. In the pre-Budget report the Chancellor announced that the temporary increase in the threshold at which an empty property becomes liable for Business Rate Relief is being extended for a further year and that the amount of this threshold has been increased to £18,000. The full pre Budget report can be seen at:

Regulations and an accompanying impact assessment to give effect to this amount will be brought forward in due course.

Owner Occupation

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment was made by his Department's predecessor of the effectiveness of its Open Door scheme to promote home ownership. [307842]

John Healey: I am not aware of any assessment made by this Department's predecessor, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, of the effectiveness of the Open Door scheme to promote home ownership which operated in 1984 and 1985. Further research could be undertaken only at disproportionate cost.

Planning Obligations

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what changes will be made to arrangements for Section 106 agreements consequent on the implementation of the Community Infrastructure Levy; and whether changes will be made
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to such arrangements in local authority areas which do not implement the Community Infrastructure Levy. [308297]

Mr. Ian Austin: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 26 October 2009, Official Report, column 136W.

Planning Permission

Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government under what circumstances the Highways Agency may (a) delay determination by a local authority of a planning application and (b) impose conditions which have to be met before the local authority is allowed to determine a planning application. [307822]

Mr. Ian Austin: The Highways Agency are a statutory consultee for the purposes of planning applications. As such they must be formally consulted on relevant planning applications.

By virtue of Article 15 (a) or (b) of the General Development Procedure Order (the GDPO), the LPA must consult the Highways Agency on any planning application for certain specified types of development involving access to a trunk road, or near to certain highways or proposed highways. The LPA cannot determine such applications unless they have been given a direction by the Highways Agency, or the Highways Agency confirms there won't be a direction, or until 28 days (or such longer period as the LPA and Highways Agency agree) have passed without receipt of a direction.

The Highways Agency must also be consulted on planning applications for development on development likely to result in a material increase in the volume or a material change in the character of traffic entering or leaving a trunk road

The Highways Agency may, in providing their comments on such applications, make recommendations as to conditions which they would like the LPA to impose if planning permission is granted.

Before imposing any conditions recommended by the Highways Agency the LPA must, as with any planning condition, ensure that each condition meets the policy requirements. These are currently set out in circular 11/95, and including 'six tests' which state each condition should be:

CLG are currently consulting on draft policy relating both to planning conditions and to the role of statutory and non-statutory consultees. These consultations were launched on 21 December 2009 and will close on 19 March 2009.

The relevant consultation papers are:

These and association documents can be viewed on the CLG website at:

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