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Lord Rooker: My Lords, as the noble Lord said, we keep coming back to the issue of county councils. I hope that I can be positive in my explanation. Certainly, I will use the material that I have, so that it is helpful for Third Reading if need be. I hope that we can put this one to rest in the end.

Clause 14 provides for local authorities with minerals and waste planning responsibilities—which are county councils in two-tier areas—to keep under review matters that are likely to affect mineral and waste development, or the planning of that development. These are referred to as the "county matters". Amendment No. 46 removes the reference to county matters, and the effect would be to require the county council to review planning matters and undertake survey work for areas of all district councils within the county boundary.

We recognise that some small districts might be stretched to undertake full survey work. We have discussed the role of the counties, and I reiterate that they will play an important role with survey work being one of those aspects where county councils can contribute.

Clause 14(3) provides for the Secretary of State to require by regulations or direct a county council to keep under review the wider matters relating to land use planning and development referred to in Clause 13(2). The draft regulations propose that the matters to be kept under review are those set out in Clause 13(2)(a) and (c) to (e) and that the results should be made available to local planning authorities.

It would be inappropriate to specify in the Bill that all counties must review all matters in respect of all the areas of district councils in the county. That would be ridiculous, given the context of the Bill. It would remove ownership of the process from the district, even though the work is essential for preparing local

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development documents. It would also take no account of the different circumstances or capacities of district councils; indeed, it would treat them all the same.

Our approach can be adapted to particular circumstances. The issues that a county would need to keep under review may change over time, as the new planning system evolves. The beauty of the regulations is that they provide the flexibility to adapt to that. I hope that, in the light of those comments, the noble Lord will withdraw the amendment, but I must put on the record again a sentence that I used before, as it may help those who assist with the drafting of opposition amendments: by removing the reference to county matters, Amendment No. 46 would require the county council to review planning matters and undertake survey work for areas of all district councils within the boundary. There would be a requirement to review for all district councils within the boundary. That cannot be what the noble Lord intended with his amendment.

Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, that is how we operate in Essex. With our county community partnership, we are involved with each district partnership. In fact, we pay for a lot of the work that the districts do. We have local service agreements under which we work with district councils. We share responsibility. They take some services from us, and we work in partnership to develop legal services and purchasing services.

Some of the discussions that we have had suggest that people do not realise how the two-tier system works. There is a partnership between the district councils and the county council, and it has changed a lot in the past couple of years. The development of the well-being clause and the development of the community strategies have changed the whole process, even the comprehensive performance assessment process. This week, every district in Essex is having a CPA. The Audit Commission asks me how we work with each district council, as part of the CPA process. Things have changed so much.

I think that, when the Government were drawing up their regional planning policies, they did not realise how their earlier local government Bills would operate. What we are doing now relates to the local government Bill before last. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, was not responsible for it; he was not doing that job then. We are operating in the spirit that the Government wanted, and it has changed the relationship between districts and counties remarkably: it has improved it. We are involved in the process with every district council in Essex, and I suggest that we continue with what is happening in a sensible way in the best interests of the community in the county. The problem with much of the Bill is that local government has moved on in the two or three years since people started talking about planning policies.

I am not content with what the Minister said. We will have to come back to the matter with some vigour at Third Reading. We need to set out clearly what is happening, and we do not want to undo the good that

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is being done, in the process of developing community strategies in local government. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Hanham moved Amendment No. 47:


    After Clause 14, insert the following new clause—


"LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLANS
(1) The local planning authority must prepare a plan for their area to be known as a local development plan.
(2) The plan must set out—
(a) the authority's objectives in relation to the development and use of land in their area;
(b) their general policies for the implementation of those objectives.
(3) The plan may also set out specific policies in relation to any part of the area of the authority.
(4) Regulations under this section may prescribe the form and content of the plan.
(5) In preparing a local development plan, the authority must have regard to—
(a) current national policies;
(b) the RSS for the region in which the area of the authority is situated, if the area is outside Greater London;
(c) the spatial development strategy if the authority are a London borough or if any part of the authority's area adjoins Greater London;
(d) the RSS for any region which adjoins the area of the authority;
(e) the Wales Spatial Plan if any part of the authority's area adjoins Wales;
(f) the community strategy prepared by the authority;
(g) the community strategy for any other authority whose area comprises any part of the area of the local planning authority;
(h) the resources likely to be available for implementing the plan;
(i) such other matters as the Secretary of State prescribes.
(6) The authority must also—
(a) carry out an appraisal of the sustainability of the plan;
(b) prepare a report of the findings of the appraisal.
(7) The community strategy is the strategy prepared by an authority under section 4 of the Local Government Act 2000 (c. 22) (strategies for promoting well-being).
(8) A plan is a local development plan only in so far as it—
(a) is adopted by resolution of the local planning authority as a local development plan;
(b) is approved by the Secretary of State."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the Minister thought that I was going to be quiet all day. I have had a lovely day—just think of the time that I spent listening carefully. It is my turn now.

We moved a large number of amendments in Committee to try to clarify the bewildering number of documents that would come before councils and authorities in bringing together the planning development scheme. Those amendments did not find much favour with the Government, so I shall try to adopt a different tactic.

We have a fair number of amendments here again, but their aim is to replace the cumbersome and confusing system of local development schemes, frameworks, documents, and development plan documents, with a

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single, simple, local development plan for each local authority. It replaces the proposed English system with a simpler Welsh system, proposed in Part 6 of this Bill, making necessary adjustments to reflect the different forms of spatial planning in the two countries.

The Government have said that they want to achieve simplicity in planning and to "de-layer" the planning system. The Bill as it stands risks replacing the removal of structure plans with a whole range of previously unheard of documents, schemes, frameworks and plans.

Announcing the publication of the Bill on 4 December 2002, the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, described the changes as including new roles for both business and the community. He said,


    "The lack of clarity in the system makes the outcome of decision-making unclear and it hurts business. Planning needs to reconnect with people. It is seen as remote and difficult to understand. It is seen as a system set out for the convenience of planners, not consumers".

I am sure that the noble Lord finds those words ringing in his mind, as he recollects them.

The Government propose that the local development framework shall be set out in a local development plan scheme comprising local development documents, some of which are development plan documents; namely, the core strategy, area action plans and a proposals map. Other documents will be local development documents but not the development plan documents, namely supplementary planning documents. A statement of community involvement will be treated as a development plan document—sometimes.

These documents will require sustainability appraisal and may need strategic environmental assessment. The development plan will be the development plan documents plus the regional spatial strategy or spatial development strategy. Noble Lords are still with me on all this, I hope! Or, to put it in the Government's own acronyms in a document entitled Creating Local Development Frameworks, the LDF shall be set out in an LDS, comprising LDDs, some of which are DPDs, namely the CS, AAPs and a proposals map. Other documents will be LDDs but not DPDs, namely SPDs, and the SCI, although the SCI will be treated as a DPD—sometimes. These documents will require SA and may need SEA. The DP will be the DPDs plus the RSS or SDS.

There must be a better way of dealing with this serious aspect of planning and planning control.


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