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Monday 5 September 2011


Communities and Local Government

Development (Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire)

The Humble Petition of residents of Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire and the surrounding areas


that the Petitioners believe that the application to build 115 new houses at the north end of Station road in Higham Ferrers will put intolerable pressure on public services and local infrastructure, in particular the A6/A45 junction at Chowns Mill which is already severely congested, pressure on already overcrowded schools, demands on public transport which is already inadequate, additional burdens on the already hard pressed on the local NHS; that the application should not be approved until significant improvements have been made in local infrastructure.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to liaise with Secretary of State for Transport and East Northamptonshire District Council and Higham Ferrers Parish Council to find a solution to the overdevelopment of Higham Ferrers and lack of infrastructure.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.—[Presented by Mr Peter Bone , Official Report, 19 July 2011; Vol. 531, c. 7P.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, received 18 August 2011:

East Northamptonshire District Council is responsible for the day-to-day planning control in their areas, and the Secretary of State cannot comment on the merits or otherwise of any planning application. The Government’s policy is not to interfere with the jurisdiction of a local planning authority unless it is necessary to do so. This is because local authority councillors are elected to represent the views of local people and, in the main, it is these councillors who are in the best position to decide whether a development should go ahead.

In determining a planning application the local planning authority is required to have regard to all material considerations including the development plan, national policies and views expressed by third parties.

In relation to the perceived lack of infrastructure, petitioners may wish to make enquiries of the local authority about whether a planning obligation is being negotiated. Planning obligations are private agreements between local planning authorities and persons with an interest in the land (usually developers), in order to make developments acceptable in planning terms. Policy on the use of planning obligations is set out in Circular 5/05.

Petitioners will also be interested in the details of the Community Infrastructure Levy, which came into force in April 2010. This will allow local authorities in England and Wales to raise funds from developers undertaking new building projects in their area. The money can be

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used to fund a wide range of infrastructure that is needed as a result of development. This includes transport schemes, flood defences, schools, hospitals and other health and social care facilities, parks, green spaces and leisure centres.

Further details on planning obligations and the Community Infrastructure Levy can be found on the Department for Communities and Local Government website:


Development on the Riverside Gardens, Erith

The Petition of residents of the London Borough of Bexley,

Declares that the petitioners oppose Bexley Council’s Erith Gateway plan to allow for blocks of flats to be built on part of the Riverside Gardens in Erith; that the Riverside Gardens were gifted to the people of Erith by the former coal company William Cory and Son for use by the local community; and that the Riverside Gardens should be designated a Town Green and protected as an open green space.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to allow for greater protection for green areas of particular importance to local communities in the Localism Bill, as outlined in his Department’s plan 2011-2015.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Teresa Pearce , Official Report, 13 July 2011; Vol. 531, c. 426-27.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, received 17 August 2011:

The Government are committed to passing power and freedoms to local communities and opening up greater opportunities for them to influence what happens in the neighbourhoods where they live. On 25 July, the Department for Communities and Local Government published for consultation a new, simpler framework for the planning system. The new National Planning Policy Framework streamlines planning policy into an easy to understand set of policies that enable local communities in producing their own plans to reflect their distinctive needs and priorities. The draft Framework takes forward the Government’s commitment in the Natural Environment White Paper to allow communities to earmark important local green spaces for special protection.

The Government want to avoid the rigid rules that apply to statutory designations. They believe that local people know best the local green spaces that are special to them and are therefore proposing that local communities should be able to use their local and neighbourhood plans to designate these areas. As local people plan for the sustainable development needed in their communities, they will be able to use the new powers in the draft framework to give special protection to green areas that have a particular local significance. This local significance could be because of the green area’s beauty, historic importance, recreational value, tranquillity or richness of its wildlife.

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The Government are proposing that the new Local Green Space designation should afford strong protection, because of the importance of green spaces to the health and happiness of local communities. Local policy for managing development within a Local Green Space will therefore be expected to be consistent with policy for Green Belts. This means that by designating land as Local Green Space local communities will be able to rule out new development other than in very special circumstances.

The Government are keen to hear views on the draft National Planning Policy Framework and the proposed Local Green Space designation. The draft framework is available via the Department for Communities and Local Government’s website:


Licensing of Mobile Home Parks

The Petition of the residents of Palma Park Homes, Loughborough, Leicestershire

Declares that the Petitioners are concerned about the standards of conduct exhibited by the owner of Palma Park Homes.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to introduce a fair, clear and simple licensing system for those owning mobile home parks, so that licence holders must show that they are fit and proper persons to hold such a licence, and that any regulations or legislation should set out how a licence may be revoked if a licence holder is found by the local authority to no longer meet the fit and proper criteria.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Nicky Morgan , Official Report, 18 July 2011; Vol. 531, c. 762-63.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, received 18 August 2011:

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government observes that a licensing system is already in place for mobile home sites under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960. He plans to consult shortly on reforms to the current regime with a view to making it more effective in protecting the health, safety and welfare of residents. However, the Secretary of State is not convinced that a requirement that all site owners are fit and proper is necessary or would be effective in delivering protection to residents. He is concerned that such a requirement would place an undue bureaucratic and costly burden on local authorities and the many good site owners who manage their sites professionally and lawfully. The proposed licensing reforms, on which he plans to consult, will enable local authorities to target those owners who mismanage their sites and pay scant regard to the law.

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McMillan Daycare Nursery (Hull)

The Petition of Kerry Stansfield and Abigail Flavell,

Declares that statements made by Ministers of the Crown to the effect that Sure Start children’s centres across the country have sufficient funding to continue providing the level of service that they have attained in recent years, appear to be contradicted by the reductions that are happening across the country; further declares that the petitioners believe that the resulting reduction in the affordable childcare in children’s centres will discourage some parents from seeking employment and will prove damaging for the long-term development of children.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges Ministers to review the funding arrangements for children’s centres to ensure that the valuable investment in the future that they represent is protected.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Diana Johnson , Official Report, 14 June 2011; Vol. 529, c. 750.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Education, received 4 August 2011:

Through the Spending Review, the Government prioritised early years provision. The Government want to reform early years education and children’s centres so that all children and families receive the support they need, particularly the most vulnerable. Sure Start children’s centres are now being funded through the Government’s Early Intervention Grant (EIG) provided to local authorities. There is enough money in the grant to retain a network of children’s centres. Ministers have been clear that they want children’s centres to maintain their presence as community hubs, but with a greater focus on supporting those families in greatest need.

The Government have responded to views from local authorities and provided them with greater flexibility in how they spend their money. Funding for children’s centres is no longer ring-fenced and it is for local authorities to decide how to run their services; they need to make judgments based on local needs and what works best. In tough economic times, however, it is crucial that local authorities listen to what local communities need and want.

Local authorities remain responsible for ensuring that there is sufficient high-quality early education and childcare across the whole of their community. The Government are committed to high-quality childcare and have increased the free childcare offer for 3 and 4-year-olds to 15 hours. The evidence is clear about the impact quality has on outcomes for children. Local authorities have duties under the Childcare Act 2006 to consult before opening, closing or significantly changing children’s centres and, as far as is reasonably practicable, to secure sufficient children’s centres provision to meet local need. It is vital that any changes are based on proper consultation with local parents and communities. However, it is for local authorities through that process to determine the exact nature of that provision.