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National parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty have the highest status of protection for their landscape and scenic beauty, and great weight indeed should be given to them in planning policies and development control decisions. Of most relevance to this in the context of the Bill is the major development test. This is set out in paragraph 22 of PPS7, which says:
PPS7 recognises non-designated areas of landscape outside nationally designated areas that are particularly highly valued locally. It sets out that local authorities should draft criteria-based policies in local development documents, utilising tools such as landscape character assessment. The noble Lord asked how strong those planning provisions are: they are very strong indeed.
Specific policies on planning for renewable energy, including on landscape protection, are set out in PPS22, which is supported by a companion guide to provide practice guidance on assessing the visual and landscape effects of planning applications for wind turbines. PPS22 recognises that the landscape and visual effects of particular renewable energy developments will vary on a case-by-case basis according to the type of development, its location and the landscape setting of the proposed development.
PPS22 advises that in sites with nationally recognised designations, such as sites of special scientific interest, national parks and AONBs, planning permission for
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The noble Lord asked me about the European Landscape Convention, which has been mentioned several times during the passage of this Bill. As my noble friend said on Report, the Government believe that the UK is already fulfilling the requirements of the convention; therefore, it does not have any immediate implications for the planning system in England. National planning policies, including PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development, recognise the need to provide appropriate protection and enhancement of rural and urban landscapes in England, in line with the principal aims of the convention.
The noble Lord mentioned Natural England. Defra has asked Natural England to take the lead on the implementation of the ELC in England, working closely with English Heritage and others. I should like to underline that Natural England will be a statutory consultee for all NPSs and will be able to raise those issues that it feels are appropriate, including any arising from the ELC.
The Bill also requires that, before designating a national policy statement, Ministers must carry out an appraisal of their sustainability. That will assess the impact of the NPS on the landscape and other environmental issues, and ensure that they are taken into account. As with Clause 10, it will capture not just environmental but also economic and social impacts, which will ensure that we understand the impact of NPSs holistically as we seek to deliver our sustainable development objectives.
The Government agree that high quality landscape is important and should be protected. They have put policies in place to that effect, and NPSs will take account of all relevant government policy. Local authorities will be able to report to the IPC on the impact of specific proposals. The noble Lord asked about regulations under Clause 104(2)(c) in relation to PPS7. I will write to him on that, but I can tell him that a number of provisions on protecting landscape will be incorporated into NPSs. With that reply and with the promise of reading Hansard tomorrow and picking up on any detailed questions that I did not address, I hope that the noble Lord will be content.
Lord Chorley: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, is she aware that what she has just said is enormously important to a whole range of organisations covering different aspects of landscape protection? Many people out there in the countryside will be very grateful.
(9) For the avoidance of doubt, the fact that any relevant national policy statement identifies a location as suitable (or potentially suitable) for a particular description of development does not prevent one or more of subsections (4) to (8) from applying.
(1) An order granting development consent may not include provision the effect of which is to exclude or modify the application of a provision of or made under the Commons Act 2006, except in accordance with section 131 or 132.
(2) For the purposes of section 38(6)(a) of the Commons Act 2006, works carried out under a power conferred by an order granting development consent are not to be taken to be carried out under a power conferred by or under an enactment, except in a case to which section 131 or 132 applies.
(a) the Commons Act 2006, or
(b) the Commons Registration Act 1965.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I shall speak also to government Amendment No. 30. These amendments result from the issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, on common land. We had short debates in Committee and on Report, and I hope that our amendment answers the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, and others.
As I mentioned on Report, we share certain core principles about how land registered as a common should continue to benefit from the protections of the Commons Act 2006, and this has two aspects. First, we continue to believe that a promoter should not be able to conduct development works on common land without consent. Secondly, where development of a nationally significant infrastructure project does take place on a common, that land should be deregistered as a common and replacement common land should generally be provided. Our amendments ensure that these points are covered.
Subsection (2) of the new clause confirms that consent will still be needed under Section 38 of the Commons Act where development consent orders grant authority for works on common land, except where the order authorises compulsory purchase under Clauses 131 and 132 of this Bill. If a promoter already owns the common land in question and does not wish to seek consent under Section 38 of the Commons Act, he will have to apply for deregistration of the land as common land under Sections 14 and 16 of the Commons Act, in which case the requirement to provide replacement land will still usually apply. Subsections (1) and (3) confirm that no development consent order could override these principles unless that order authorises
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I hope that the noble Lord will be reassured that the points he raised in earlier debates are good ones, and that I always enjoy agreeing with him. It is right to ensure that no loophole exists in the Bill to allow promoters to skirt around the protections in place for the precious notion of common land. I beg to move.
Lord Greaves: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the amendments. She said that she hopes that I will be reassured by them. I am far more than reassured. I first raised this issue in Committee and moved amendments on Report in the hope that a satisfactory compromise could be reached. I have to say that a satisfactory compromise has not been reached because as far as I can see, the amendments now being proposed by the Minister do everything I had hoped and intended my amendments to do. It is a very good show and I thank the Minister for listening, for understanding the issue and for responding to it. If the Minister enjoys agreeing with me, I enjoy it far more when she brings forward amendments that do exactly what I have been asking for.
In section 39 of PCPA 2004 (sustainable development) after subsection (2) insert
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I suspect that this amendment will give the House even greater pleasure than did the amendment regarding common land, which is hard to believe. It concerns design in the town and country planning system. It inserts into Section 39 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 a requirement that those exercising development plan functions in England, whether regional or local, must have regard to the desirability of achieving good design when pursuing the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development; similarly it applies to those exercising development plan functions in Wales in regard to the Wales spatial plan or local development plan.
Noble Lords who have sat through our debates on the Bill, from its optimistic beginnings, through the heavy pounding of Committee, as the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, described it, to the calmer waters of Report, will know that design has come up continually. I thank noble Lords for the nature of the debate we
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We have made clear how design contributes to sustainable development in planning policy statement 1, an important and generous statement, and other policy statements, from the broad juxtaposition of buildings and facilities to orientation on site and contribution to streetscape. The provision will also complement and reinforce the new climate change duties we have introduced in respect of development plans. Good design can help reduce carbon emissions and encourage more sustainable behaviour such as walking or cycling. Noble Lords will know that local planning authorities already have to take account of our existing national design policies in development plans and make clear local policies where they add to national policy guidance.
What pleases me about the amendment is that the measure we are introducing will raise the profile of what planning authorities should be doing. Development plans play a key role in guiding users of the planning system. We are therefore keen to see these documents completed as soon as possibleI am glad to say that we are making good progressand we would not want to see the new design duty delaying the process. However, we will want to consult and discuss with local planning authorities how to give effect now to the design duty in the context of plan-making. I indicated on Report that our chief planner would be writing to all local planning authorities shortly to encourage them to take further positive action to achieve good design, and we will be considering what further support can be given to them and others in delivering good designfor example, through design panels, the HCA and other partnerships.
I have indicated to the House that we are committed to achieving good design and to supporting local planning authorities and others through strong partnership programmes. I believe that the new clause represents a proper and proportionate response to the excellent and thorough debates that we have had at all stages in the Lords thus far, and I hope noble Lords agree. I pay particular tribute to my two noble friends Lady Whitaker and Lord Howarth for their relentless capacity for not giving up. Credit is due to them and to all who supported the amendments.
Amendment No. 31, regarding Clause 24, is consequential to Amendment No. 14 and relates to the commencement of that provision. It provides that the provision on design will be commenced by order made by the Secretary of State in relation to England, and by Welsh Ministers in relation to Wales.
Baroness Whitaker: My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend on this amendment. I thank her for the exemplary way in which she has kept the House informed of developments in the Bill, and for her kind words.
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The amendment completes a legal framework that will enable our talented architects and designers to give of their best for ordinary affordable social housing as well as for big infrastructure projects. We shall have a better society because of it if we make sure that all concerned take full advantage of the new duty to achieve sustainability by good design. The first crucial step would be taken by these amendments, and I applaud my noble friends achievement in getting them through.
Lord Tyler: My Lords, I add a word of congratulation to the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, and the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, on how they have pursued this. Of course, our main congratulations go to the Minister.
I hope that I will not be thought to be a little niggardly in saying that, in contrast to the response on the issue of the commons law last week, when the Minister was very positive and said that she would look at it quickly and come back with proposals, as indeed she hasI and commons campaigners in other parts of the country respect and are delighted by thatshe was a bit negative on this issue last week. Looking at Hansard, I thought that, on Report, she was uncharacteristically truculent on design, even suggesting that it was quite impossible to put something in the Bill because there was no time to consult.
I pay tribute to the Minister for the speed with which she and her team in the department have managed to come up with something in the Bill that meets many of our concerns. As a relative newcomer to your Lordships HouseI have been here only three and half years; until you have been here 33 years you are not regarded as a nativeI have seen how the Minister and her team have responded with meticulous efficiency to issues in the House, and by correspondence with many of us involved in the passage of the Bill. That is in sharp contrast to my experience on the Front Bench in the other place over 14 years, when Ministers did not think it necessary to explain and persuade. That is to the credit of this House, and to the Minister and her team.
The elegant U-turn that the Minister has undertaken over the past few days is to her personal credit and that of her team in the department. The result is a great step forward. I say to her and to other Members of your Lordships House who have made this such an important part of our discussions on planning that it is a pity that we did not have this requirement clearly in previous legislationnotably the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, to which it has now been added. It is a great step forward, and I am sure that it will be recognised as such outwith this House.
Lord Howarth of Newport: My Lords, my noble friend has indeed allowed the hand of history to touch her shoulder. When it was suggested on Report last week that that might be so, she blushed modestly and demurred. Since then, however, she has embraced her historical destiny to become the reformer responsible
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The new clause and this legislation will be timely. The Government are extremely anxious to accelerate construction activity, and housebuilding in particular, for good reason. We understand that there are 1.7 million households on the waiting list for social housing. It is widely agreed that a stimulus is needed for the economy under the present conditions. However, there is a danger that, in our haste to accelerate construction, quality is sacrificed. We must not repeat the disastrous mistakes that were made decade after decade in the second half of the 20th century. With a great deal of public sector activism and expenditure, and a depressed private sector andI hope not, but perhapsa depressed social housing sector operating in circumstances of great difficulty, there is a danger that we will revert to the policy of creating estates, with all that words bad connotations, instead of continuing to create integrated communities. That is an aspect of design.
There is a continuum between economic policy, social policy, planning policy, functionality, sustainability, building regulations, green spaces, design and aesthetics. All are interdependent. My noble friend has been right to reject the view that it would have been inappropriate to state the requirement for design alongside the requirement for sustainable development in this legislation. Good planning, plus good design, plus good building tend to make for good communities.
Where questions of style are concerned it does not matter whether a development is modern or traditional. I personally do not think that is any business of government, but it is governments business to help everybody involved in design and construction in this country to raise their game. How is that to be done? It is not easy. We have a plethora of planning policy statements and DCLG and CABE manuals of design. There is a mass of local policies in every planning authority on shop fronts, fenestration materials and so forth. So why, then, is good design not widely prevalent? Part of the answer is that knowledge and judgment are hard won. We need to do better on education and training. While the Government should always respect professional and academic autonomy, I hope that they will lend all their weight and drive to improving education and training in this field.
However, I think that the main problem arises from pressures imposed on planning committees, for example, by housebuilding targets, the need to create new infrastructure fast, local campaigns to stop things being done and from developers who want to cut costs and improve their profit margins. Planning officers and members of planning committees often lack the time to go into the necessary detail. They sometimes lack the interest and the knowledge, too, but they mainly lack the time. The agenda for a fortnightly planning committee meeting can easily run to 100 pages and more, so that the advice from the Government, CABE and the local community is paraphrased by planning officers for the working papers of the committee and too much is lost in translation. The detail in such
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If we do not want identikit new developments spread all across the country, we must also foster the vernacular. However, by definition the vernacular is diverse and needs to be interpreted locally by local people who are knowledgeable about it. That means that we need to think about how to use the resources that local advisory committees can offer to local planners. That is one of the reasons I am such a strong believer in design review. One interesting model for advice lies in conservation area advisory committees.
Lord Howarth of Newport: My Lords, of all the noble Lords who might upbraid me I am perhaps happiest being upbraided by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. I will simply confine myself to noting that we have an anomalous situation in which conservation area advisory committees were set up in statute but are not statutory consultees. That is a wasted opportunity. We should better use these advisory bodies, design review and other advisory bodies of this kind. However, this amendment to the town and country planning regime, together with the amendments which my noble friend previously brought forward, strengthens our drive for good design and strengthens the duty to have regard to design on the HCA and in the development consent regime. I am deeply grateful to my noble friend and I ask her whether she will now turn her creative mind to how this new and good law can be made to work well.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I hope that the noble Baroness will forgive me if I do not spend time focusing on her place in history because I could not do so better than the noble Lord has done. Instead, I wish to make one observation about the proposed new clause, which we support. It is important to recognise that the sustainable development duty is not diluted but that good design is a mechanism for achieving sustainable development. I would hate it to be thoughtI do not believe that any noble Lords think thisthat somehow we have created a new hierarchy within sustainable development. I do not read that as being inherent in the new clause. We support the notion of sustainable development but not that of spreading it more thinly or changing it.
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