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Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 67:


The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment seeks to amend Clause 18, which deals with the statement of community involvement. It seeks to extend the persons who are the subject or the object—I am not sure which—of the activity under Clause 18(2). That subsection provides that:


    "The statement of community involvement is a statement of the authority's policy as to the involvement in the exercise of the authority's functions . . . of persons who appear to the authority to have an interest in matters relating to development in their area".

My amendment seeks to add the words "and use of land".

The Minister very helpfully sent out a compendium letter, if I may describe it as that, which picked up a number of points made in Committee. One of those concerned the definition of "development" and the definition of "use". He pointed out the differences between those and said that planning permission is required for the carrying out of a development as defined. References in the Bill to development alone refer to development and control matters. References in the Bill to the development and use of land refer not only to development in the development control sense but also to the ongoing use of land where there is not necessarily any change or activity envisaged in respect of it.

I tabled the amendment before receiving the letter. Nevertheless, I was very grateful to receive the letter as it seems to me to spell out exactly what I was concerned about in tabling the amendment—that is, that the statement of community involvement should be wide enough to include those who are interested in the ongoing use of land where there is not necessarily any change or activity envisaged. It must be right to ask whether the Government believe that things are right now. Do they want change or no change? If Clause 18(2) is confined only to those who have an interest in matters relating to development control, that seems to me to be too narrow. I was glad to have the relevant definition. It was helpful to be given that and the distinctions between the terms. I beg to move.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, it would be ridiculous for me to read out my notes bearing in mind that the noble Baroness tabled the amendment before she received the letter, as she said. The letter is quite lengthy.

We want the Bill to be clear that both tiers of plans should include policies for ongoing use as well as development. We do not think that there are any grounds for concern that the wording of the Bill will in any way exclude parties with an interest in conservation or those opposing development for that matter.

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As the letter was received after the amendment was tabled, I am happy in the time available between now and Third Reading to do a triple check on the use of the words in this part of the Bill.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am very grateful for that. I do not think that it would involve any loss of face at all on the part of the Government, particularly as they have three-quarters raised the matter, to make it wholly clear on the face of the Bill that the involvement is as extensive as we all believe that it should be. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Hanham moved Amendment No. 68:


    Page 10, line 21, at end insert "including councillors"

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the amendment adds the role of local councillors to the matters addressed by statements of community involvement. That might seem odd, as it is the authority's policy on the statement of community involvement which is being put forward. Since the introduction of executive arrangements in councils, decision making is concentrated mainly in the hands of a small number of executive members. Other councillors may well be on the authority's planning committee, but the majority of councillors will have no decision-making powers beyond the small number of matters reserved for full council meetings.

The representational role of those back-bench councillors becomes more important as a result and one of the areas in which the public most expects representation is on planning matters. The role of ward councillors is not always clear at the moment and it certainly needs to be enhanced. The amendment would ensure that the role of councillors in community involvement in planning decisions is set out and, consequently, will improve the representations that they will make. I beg to move.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, this issue was raised in Committee and we set out our firm commitment to community involvement. I have repeated that throughout the process. Today we have published our policy paper on the objectives for community involvement in planning, copies of which have been made available to the Front Benches and placed in the Library of the House. I hope I am not going to be contradicted on that. It is good bedtime reading. It is an important statement of the vision and I hope will be a useful description of many of the things we are doing to promote community involvement—not just in the Bill.

Amendment No. 68 requires local planning authorities to consult councillors. They have a vital role in leading the process of community involvement. That is part of their role as democratically elected representatives They are spokespersons for their areas and their role should be clear. I encourage councillors to take the fullest part in promoting and facilitating the process and the community involvement paper makes that clear. But what is the point of the amendment? The councillors are members of the local authority. They will,

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in effect, be responsible for their own statements of community involvement. The amendment seems to imply that councillors will be divorced from the process. If that is happening there are real problems in the local authority concerned.

I have never been a councillor, but you need to know the difference between governance and management. The councillor's job is not to manage the authority, but to govern it. The manager's job is not to govern it—that is the councillor's job. The councillors need to know where the dividing line is. There are real problems in authorities if we have reached the position where councillors who own the decisions of the authority do not feel part of it. They will all have different roles, including scrutiny, planning and so on, but they are all members of that authority.

If the amendment is meant to refer to councillors in other authorities—which could be the case—that is covered by the arrangements that the local planning authority must make to consult other local planning authorities on its local development document. So we cannot see a problem for the amendment to tackle. If the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, is aware of any serious problems, I will be grateful if she will let the department have her notes about them.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, before the Minister sits down—I am dredging my memory—I was going to ask if that meant that the issue would be a key decision that would have to be reported as part of the forward plan. I am thinking of practising councillors; but it cannot be a key decision in this context as it does not lend itself to that. It would be helpful for us to understand, in the context of the mechanisms now in place—with reference to the relevant local government Act—the basis upon which the matter should be referred to all councillors.

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, there were several reasons for raising this matter. One was that, on the whole, I believe that councils are becoming more and more divorced from governance. I do not say "management"; I do not really know why the Minister raised the issue of governance and management because that is not germane to the amendment. However, under the last licensing Bill, councillors were excluded from making representations. Members are excluded from making any decisions that have anything to do with any planning anywhere within their wards or areas. That cannot be right because there must be policy areas where they are absolutely enabled to take part.

I believe that the two examples I have quoted make all the more relevant the reason for wanting to see councillors referred to on the face of the Bill as part of the group who are to be consulted formally or included in the discussions. A wider audience would be discussing the statement of community involvement and, by rights, they should have a role in that. That was the purpose of the amendment. I do not believe that it required too much jubilation. I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Baroness Hanham moved Amendment No. 69:


    Page 10, line 21, at end insert—


"(2A) An enterprise zone authority, urban development corporation, housing action trust or the urban regeneration agency shall prepare a statement of community involvement with respect to any functions falling within subsection (2) which it has power to exercise."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment requires enterprise zone authorities, urban development corporations, housing action trusts and English Partnerships to prepare statements of community involvement where they exercise development control powers. We touched on this matter in Committee but did not really get anywhere with it. All those bodies can be empowered to determine planning applications.

Local planning authorities will be obliged to prepare statements explaining how they will involve persons interested in development in their area in preparing local development plans and in making development control decisions. While urban development corporations and similar bodies will not be responsible for development plans, they may have powers to grant or refuse planning permission.

Local authorities, which are democratically accountable, are required to produce statements of community involvement. That is on top of their existing statutory responsibilities to consult on and publicise planning applications and to make decisions in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Ministers clearly consider that this additional statement is required.

The Minister's reply—that of the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, no less—to this amendment in Committee was unfortunately unconvincing, again. He said that those bodies are subject to the obligation to,


    "determine the application in accordance with the development plan drawn up by the relevant local authority unless there were other material considerations".

That is true, and so are local authorities. He said that these bodies are subject to,


    "requirements for publicity, the notification of planning applications and enabling representations to be made [on these bodies]".—[Official Report, 27/1/04; cols. 119–120.]

That is true, and so are local authorities. The Minister said that those bodies must involve the community in decision-making. That is also true, and so must local authorities.

The Government have just produced a document, Community Involvement in Planning: the Government's Objectives. Its front page says:


    "Planning shapes the places where people live and work. So it is right that people should be enabled and empowered to take an active part in the process. Strengthening community involvement is a key part of the Government's planning reforms".

But nowhere in its 24 pages does the document mention enterprise zone authorities, urban development corporations, housing action trusts or English Partnerships. Community involvement is not only about local authorities and planning; it must be about these other bodies and planning decisions. We do not

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see how a statutory statement, subject to independent examination, is required for local councils but is not necessary for other bodies exercising the same powers.

In Committee, the Minister made a complaint that the amendment did not work technically. Those advising our side on these matters do not agree. Clause 18 will apply the obligations of independent examination and powers of withdrawal and adoption to these other bodies' statements of community involvement. Contrary to the suggestion in Committee, an urban development corporation's statement of community involvement will not be a local development document, as under Clause 17 that is only the local planning authority statement of community involvement. A tidying-up amendment may be needed to the interpretation section, Clause 37, to extend the definition of "local planning authority" for the purposes of independent examination, withdrawal and adoption, that is, Clauses 20, 22 and 23, to these bodies. That could be tabled for Third Reading. If Ministers have other consequential technical amendments, they can bring them forward later.

The Government envisage that we shall see a revived role for urban development corporations and English Partnership in planning major growth areas in this country. Those schemes will require effective public involvement to attain credibility. The need for statements of community involvement apply with as much, if not greater, force to those bodies as to local councils. I beg to move.

10 p.m.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, for the avoidance of doubt, the normal procedures relating to development control will apply to the urban development corporations and to English Partnerships, the statutory bodies. So in terms of development control, that is planning applications for a particular site or development, the normal procedures of consultation apply.

I have always made it absolutely clear that in setting up delivery vehicles for the growth areas and for some of the housing renewal pathfinder areas—at the moment there are no delivery vehicles of a statutory nature, but there may be—it is not our intention to shortcut the consultation process. It is a different kind of management tool. They have a defined life. From memory, I think that we said 10 years for the two that we are consulting about in Milton Keynes and south Midlands at the present time. There are two in London so far but there will not be very many. They are a tool for getting action, but not for snuffing out people's opportunity to put their objections in and to have their five penn'orth. So far as development controls are concerned, the normal procedures would apply. I am more than happy to revisit this issue for Third Reading.

It is important and completely different from what we have discussed in the rest of the day. Coming to it at this late hour I do not intend to delay the House but there are just a few points I shall put on the record.

We discussed this issue in Committee. I described in some detail the consultations that urban development corporations and others would need to undertake,

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which mean that it is unnecessary to apply the statement of community involvement processes to them. I was faced with an acronym and I refused to use it. It was not spelled out for me.

The amendment would require the enterprise zone authority, urban development corporation, housing action trust or the urban regeneration agency to prepare the statement of community involvement where it has the power to exercise any function. These functions are preparing the local development documents. The bodies in question can be given powers to determine planning applications. They have to determine the application in accordance with the development plan drawn up by the relevant local authority, unless the material considerations indicate otherwise. So the framework within which the delivery vehicle operates would have been subject to the involvement processes that we have already discussed.

The statement of community involvement is an integral part of the process for preparing the local development documents and we think that it would be problematic to import it wholesale into the structures and ways of working of other bodies. The delivery vehicles are not all the same; they are fit for purpose for the area. In the Milton Keynes and south Midlands area one is an ordinary, standard urban development corporation—that is the west Northampton one. The one for Milton Keynes is an English Partnerships-led statutory authority. It is slightly different. It is not English Partnerships but they are using different powers of the law that already apply. We think it would be problematic to import this into different structures and ways of working. But they are still required to go through the consultation process.

The nature of the beast, the body, when we put these agencies together is to ensure that the local authorities are represented; that they are not being snuffed out; that there will be places on the board and independent involvement. When the chair and chief executive are appointed, it would be wise indeed to ensure that they take the body of public opinion along with them as they perform their role as part of the big picture for the growth area, which it is a Minister's duty to put forward and explain.

We would expect the local development documents to take due account of the urban development corporation's proposals for an area and would expect close consultation between the local planning authority and the urban development corporation. The statement of community involvement processes will apply.

I have one final point: as a generalisation, the urban development corporations which are being set up are borrowing planning powers where the planning powers are coming over to them, only for the strategic sites in a locality. They are not taking all the planning powers of all the local authority area. It will apply only to the strategic development sites. Until planning permission is given—there may be developments under way—the planning would then revert back because it is a borrowing of the powers.

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Unlike former UDCs, or many of them, which have taken wholesale all the planning powers including modification to domestic dwellings, this will be for the strategic development sites for generating growth. This is a slightly different animal. I am happy to give this matter more thought so that on Third Reading we can give further clarification if necessary. It may be that we can put together a letter at an early stage between now and then to explain in greater detail why—there will be good reason—for example, they are not referred to in the document we have published today.


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