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Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 364A:

Page 141, line 13, leave out subsection (4) and insert--
("( ) The spatial development strategy must include statements dealing with the general spatial development aspects of--
(a) such of the other strategies prepared and published, or to be prepared and published, under the enactments mentioned in section 33(1) above as involve considerations of spatial development, and
(b) such of the Mayor's other policies or proposals as involve such considerations,
whether or not the strategy, policy or proposal relates to the development or use of land.").

The noble Lord said: The amendment is intended to define more succinctly the relationship between the SDS and other of the mayor's strategies.

Following discussion during the Committee stage in another place, we have taken the opportunity to rationalise the wording of the clause, which caused some difficulties. So this is simply a drafting amendment designed to clarify that the mayor's spatial development strategy must cover spatial aspects of other strategies and policies. Taken together with Clause 33(5), which I cite frequently in these debates, this will help to ensure consistency and integration between the various strategies. It will do so, though, in slightly less absolute terms than the existing wording, which might be construed as requiring the SDS faithfully to reflect an existing mayoral strategy even if it were out of date and needed revising. I believe that the amendment provides greater clarity and a little flexibility. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee: My Amendment No. 366ZA is grouped with this. I was concerned about the terminology of a "general setting" for the mayor's policies, which is why I chose the phrase "strategic framework". However, I am happy for that to be superseded.

Perhaps I may confirm that, in losing subsection (4)(a), which provides in relation to spatial development a general setting, framework or whatever one chooses to call it, the Government are relying on subsection (2) to describe the spatial development strategy. Subsection (4) as amended will relate only to its relationship with other strategies and policies and one should not use the spatial development aspect. I believe that Clause 264(2) does the job.

Lord Whitty: I believe that to be correct.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 365 to 366ZA not moved.]

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 366A:

Page 141, line 17, after ("Mayor,") insert--
("(c) in respect of the transport strategy, reflect the future land requirements of passenger and freight transport needs,").

The noble Lord said: As the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, who is not present, and I have amendments in this group, I beg to move Amendment No. 366A and in

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doing so speak to my Amendments Nos. 372 and 372A. They introduce at this stage into the spatial development strategy the need to include environmental considerations. It is late in the evening and I do not believe that one needs to go into the matter in detail. I suspect that the Minister will say again that, of course, these matters will be taken into consideration. It has been said so many times that we are dealing with possibilities in this Bill. The fact that something will be done does not necessarily mean that it will. It could mean that it will be neglected to be done.

Conservation of those parts of London which have not been developed, improvement in its physical environment and the conservation of the beauty and amenity of London are very important considerations in any spatial development strategy. We wanted to call it a London development strategy. The question is fundamental to the improvement of London's environment. It is because it is so important, and we now have the Rogers report on urban regeneration, that it is appropriate to introduce these considerations in this way. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: I fully accept the importance of the areas specified in these two amendments, but I do not consider it appropriate that we should put them on the face of the Bill. Presumably, they do not purport to be the full list of issues to be addressed by the strategy. I suspect that they are attempting to identify some minimum requirements. In practice they do not go much beyond the general purposes of the authority set out much earlier in Clause 25.

The problem with any such list of desiderata is that it is bound to be selective and incomplete. It is also likely that it will need to be reviewed from time to time, which is why we consider that any specification of minimum coverage would have to be dealt with through secondary legislation or guidance. To put these matters on the face of the Bill would not be appropriate. Therefore, I do not believe that we should adopt these changes albeit that I accept the importance of the two areas which have been identified. I hope that the noble Lord will not press the amendment.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for his response. It is reassuring to hear that these are important considerations and, even if they are not to go on the face of the Bill, that he accepts the principle that lies behind the amendment. I shall explore with care what the Minister said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 367 not moved.]

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 368:

Page 141, line 26, at end insert ("provided that it has a significant effect greater than the area of a single London borough").

The noble Lord said: This amendment deals with a matter which is of some importance. At page 141 of the Bill we are dealing with matters which will be included

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in the spatial development strategy. Clause 264(6) states:

    "In determining for the purposes of this Part whether a matter is of strategic importance to Greater London, it is immaterial whether or not the matter affects the whole area of Greater London". Of course, that is unexceptionable. We have no difficulty with that at all.

At the other end of the scale, if something is not put in, there is no bottom end. We are suggesting in the amendment that there ought to be a bottom end, so to speak, and that for a matter to be included in the strategy in this context, it should be a matter that is of such significance that it will affect an area that is greater than that of a single borough. In other words, it puts the mayor's strategy into the genuinely strategic area and removes it from the possibility of conflict with matters that ought more properly to be dealt with by the unitary development plans which the borough will handle. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee: In this group, Amendment No. 368A stands in my name. I tabled the amendment in order to explore, as the noble Lord has suggested, what is strategic, and more particularly how it can be determined. I am not convinced that it is possible to provide for every matter that is strategic, listing all of them in advance.

I am aware that regulations are proposed under Clause 274 and I have seen the consultation paper which has been the subject of discussion among various parties in London. That paper sets out the categories of development on which the proposed mayor of London is to be consulted. It lists four broad groups: large scale development, major infrastructure, development that may affect key strategic policies and development that may affect key strategic sites. To a significant extent, that seems to beg the question of strategic importance which will be a matter for judgment. It will be entirely possible and desirable to set out many of the types of development that would be regarded as strategic. I am not sure that it would be possible to deal with them all. If that is not possible, the question arises as to who is to be the judge. In our view Clause 264(5) rightly says that the,

    "strategy must deal only with matters which are of strategic importance to Greater London". That raises some issues.

Amendment No. 368A proposes an arbiter in the person of whoever conducts the examination in public under Clause 268. I do not believe that that is necessarily a perfect solution because, by definition, an examination in public is not an inquiry which comes to a conclusion in the same way. It examines issues, provides advice and so on. I believe it is worth reflecting on whether there may be areas where there will be dispute about what is strategic that simply do not lend themselves to being dealt with by regulation. If that is so, who should reach a view?

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Amendment No. 368B, included in this group, is intended to raise the issue and

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to allow me to air the anxieties expressed on behalf of the City of London rather than that the amendment should inevitably form part of the Bill.

The Government have in mind that, in due course, there will be an order which will set out the categories of planning application which will be regarded as strategic and on which, therefore, the mayor not only has to be consulted, but on which he may, in the end, have a veto.

We said in earlier debates on Monday that planning was one of the major sources of friction between the GLC, the boroughs and the City Corporation. Indeed, in one sense, we returned to that today. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, indicated, there is already quite a long history about this matter. It was necessary for the Government to clarify what kinds of development would be regarded as "strategic". They have clearly learnt the lesson here of the conflict between the boroughs and the GLC and they are trying to ensure that the mayor and the authority will only have a role in planning applications that are genuinely strategic. For everything else, the boroughs and the City Corporation will remain the planning authorities.

In March, the Government answered a Written Question in another place. It is a long answer, so I shall not attempt to try to read or even summarise it, because I want to deal with my own amendment. The essence of it is contained in about seven lines which I shall read out to the Committee:

    "The Mayor must also have a means of representing the broader pan-London view for individual planning applications where issues of genuine strategic importance are concerned. The Mayor will therefore become a statutory consultee for a limited number of applications of potential strategic importance, to be defined in secondary legislation". Mr Raynsford, the Minister who replied, goes on to say:

    "He or she will also have a fall-back power to direct the refusal of planning permission in these cases where this is considered necessary on strategic grounds".--[Official Report, Commons, 15/3/99; col. WA 472.]

The following page sets out a long list, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, referred, detailing the categories which are likely to be covered in this respect. They were dealt with in greater detail in the consultation paper to which reference has already been made. One of those categories relates to very large new buildings or structures. The proposal was that that would be over 30,000 square metres in the City of London, 20,000 square metres in the rest of central London and 15,000 metres elsewhere. I ask Members of the Committee to note that what is there proposed is the actual size of the buildings. My amendment is directed towards saying that it is not so much the size of the buildings--my amendment is confined to the City of London--as the increase in the size of the buildings.

The general pattern of development and redevelopment within the City is that a large office building becomes outdated, inconvenient and unsuited to modern commerce. It is, therefore, redeveloped. The building may be either substantially reconstructed, or it may be demolished and an entirely new building may be put up in its place. Most of these buildings are already of such a size that they would come within that category

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of over 30,000 square metres. Indeed, one could quote some examples of buildings which have been constructed recently and which would be caught by this because they are over that limit. However, at this time of night, it will not be necessary to do so.

The effect of the Government's drafting of the Bill by looking at the absolute size rather than the increase in the size is that some 22 per cent of permissions for development and 48 per cent of floor space granted in the City would, on current figures--I am talking about 1997-98 figures--be subject to reference to the mayor. Some 48 per cent of the redevelopments in the City would be regarded as strategic. I submit to the Government that that is absurd. Merely to replace a large building with another one of the same size has no strategic implications at all. It should not lead to any significant increase in employment. It should not lead to any significant increase in traffic. It should not have any impact on any of the general strategic planning in London. However, if it happens to be over 30,000 square metres, off it has to go to the mayor.

However, if there was a substantial increase in the size of a building--my amendment takes the same figure of 30,000 square metres for London--the only developments to be caught would be 3 per cent of permissions rather than 22 per cent. Instead of 48 per cent of floor space the figure would be 7 per cent. It seems inherently probable that it is that small share of the total developments within the City of London that is likely to have strategic implications for the spatial strategy. I therefore believe that the Government must consider adopting a test of the increase in the size of a building rather than the absolute size of a building.

There are few sites within the City of London that are as yet undeveloped. There may be some sites where there will be a change of use. For example, a telephone exchange with few people may be turned into an office block with a large number of people. The amendment does not affect that position. The amendment recognises that if it is a question of a different use class and comes within the limit that is being suggested it may well have strategic applications and should be referred. However, if it is a question of a building in the same use class of the same size as that which is being replaced, I submit that it is absurd to regard that as a strategic matter which has to be referred. In the past year, 48 per cent of the buildings that have been the subject of development in the City would have had to be referred.

There are all kinds of arguments and at this hour of the night I shall not deploy them except to say that the City is proud of its record as a planning authority. It takes great pride in ensuring that the City is capable of meeting the needs of the users who, as I said in an earlier debate, include a great many from overseas running financial services in London. I believe that it would be most unfortunate if such a high proportion of the development were effectively to be taken out of the hands of the City corporation and entrusted to the mayor of London on the grounds that if a figure of over 30,000 square metres is involved the matter must be strategic.

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I have made my case and I hope that the Government will be prepared to listen. There is plenty of time. The measure does not have to come into effect until the mayor takes over and an order will have to be made. The consultation has shown that what the Government propose does not make sense. I hope that they will be prepared to reconsider the matter. When we reach that point I shall withdraw my amendment.

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