Listed Buildings

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd November 1976.

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Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch and Lymington 12:00 am, 3rd November 1976

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if it is his intention to vary the General Development Order in such a manner as to remove from local authorities the need for them to notify his Department of any planned changes to the existing state of listed buildings, other than grade I or grade II.

Photo of Mr Guy Barnett Mr Guy Barnett , Greenwich

Yes, Sir. I intend to make an amendment to the General Development Order when a suitable opportunity arises.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch and Lymington

Is the Minister aware that that will be bad news to many people who regard these listed buildings as a vital part of the historic fabric of our towns, cities and countryside? Will he consider, in the light of what he has said, making notifiable to amenity societies any proposed planning changes which are not to be notified to his Department? That would avoid the unacceptable planning by-products that will result from what he has just announced, such as the unacceptable disfigurements from supermarket developments which we have had over the years.

Photo of Mr Guy Barnett Mr Guy Barnett , Greenwich

This change does not in any way diminish the degree of listed building control. The change has already occurred in one place, in a direction which has only recently required planning authorities to notify the Secretary of State of all grade II buildings. The reason for the change was that there was a considerable waste of staff time in the Department of the Environment, as was evidenced by the fact that 11,000 of these applications came before the Department in two years but only seven were called in. I would welcome the need for amenity societies to be made aware by the local planning authority. The best chance we have of preserving these buildings is to encourage active public participation.

Photo of Mr Arthur Newens Mr Arthur Newens , Harlow

Does my hon. Friend accept that not all local authorities are equally concerned about the preservation of historic and architectural merit? Therefore, it is vital that the Government, at central level, should continue to take a firm stand in defence of listed buildings.

Photo of Mr Guy Barnett Mr Guy Barnett , Greenwich

This must be a locally determined matter. It is impossible for the Government to have a close interest in every listed building in the country. When it is obvious that the planning committee of a particular local authority does not take enough interest in listed buildings, the local amenity societies do, and they maintain a check on this.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

When a grade II building is burned to the ground, does the local authority have the power to say that it need not be rebuilt, particularly in present economic circumstances?

Photo of Mr Guy Barnett Mr Guy Barnett , Greenwich

I cannot answer that without notice.