Planning Applications

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6 May 1981.

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Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman , Barnet Chipping Barnet 12:00, 6 May 1981

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied that local planning authorities generally are adopting positive attitudes in determining planning applications, with particular reference to the location of new housing sites.

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine Secretary of State for Environment

I am satisfied that many authorities are adopting a positive approach but there is still much scope for improvement.

Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman , Barnet Chipping Barnet

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is strong evidence that certain local planning authorities have been far too negative in exercising development control procedures? Does he agree that, once it is accepted that a particular development should be on a particular site, planners could be much more positive in meeting applicants and making decisions on vehicle access points or the width of pavements? This assumes even greater importance when the planning applications relate to houses or housing estates.

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine Secretary of State for Environment

My hon. Friend has great knowledge of the working practices of individual authorities when dealing with these issues. It is impossible to give a general answer to his question because working practices are so different. However, I am concerned about the general issues that he has raised with me. I hope that he will accept my assurance that I shall consider what he has had to say sympathetically.

Photo of Mr William Benyon Mr William Benyon , Buckingham

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the least positive attitudes in planning concerns the change of use for buildings for industrial purposes? Does he recall that this was the subject of circular 22/80 from his Department? What is really infuriating is that this negative attitude appears to be taken by the inspectors appointed by my right hon. Friend's Department. Will he bring to their attention the need, at a time of high unemployment, to give the maximum assistance to change of use for industrial and commercial premises?

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine Secretary of State for Environment

I hope that my hon. Friend will be kind enough to let me have any examples where he feels that the inspectorate is not complying with the circular that I issued. It is my intention that my inspectors should uphold the policies set out in the circular.