Clause 37 — Development Plan
Orders of the Day — Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill
Mr Keith Hill (Minister of State (Housing and Planning), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister; Streatham, Labour)
I knew that you would say that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I am grateful for your intervention, but it goes without saying that I am unqualified in my enthusiasm for the Mayor, his membership of my party and his re-election campaign over the next couple of months.
If I may be a trifle more serious about the issues raised by Opposition Members, let me respond first to observations made by the Corporation of London. Michael Snyder is a member of a council with which I am in regular contact. We were aware that it was possible to construe the Mayor's interpretation of general conformity as perhaps being unduly detailed. We are clear that it is a test of general conformity and not conformity. That means that it is only where a local development document would cause significant harm to the implementation of the regional spatial strategy or London plan that it should be considered as not being in general conformity. Conservative Members alluded to my statement today, which set out the Government's policy on general conformity. That statement reflects those principles and we also intend to provide guidance on the issue in planning policy statement 12.
The hon. Member for Cotswold challenged me to provide a clearer explanation of our statement on the Government's policy on general conformity between the Mayor's spatial development strategy, the London plan and London boroughs' unitary development plans. I will also seek to offer reassurance to the hon. Member for Chipping Barnet on the relationship between the Mayor's powers and borough development plan documents.
The test is, we believe, of general conformity, not conformity. That means that it is only where an inconsistency or omission in a UDP would cause significant harm to the implementation of the spatial development strategy that the UDP should be considered not to be in general conformity. The fact that a UDP is inconsistent with one or more policies in the spatial development strategy—either directly or through the omission of a policy or proposal—does not by itself mean that the UDP is not in general conformity; rather it tests how significant the inconsistency is from the point of view of delivery of the SDS.