Residential Development

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th February 1987.

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Photo of John Butterfill John Butterfill , Bournemouth West 12:00 am, 4th February 1987

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans to review the powers of local planning authorities to control the type of home erected on land designated for residential development purposes; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

No, Sir. Local planning authorities already have wide powers to determine planning applications submitted to them.

Photo of John Butterfill John Butterfill , Bournemouth West

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a problem in Dorset, in that whenever we re-zone land for housing it is covered with a sea of bungalows that are marketed nationwide to the elderly, which aggravates the imbalance of our population and does not provide for the needs of local people? The chief planning officer in Dorset says that he does not have sufficient powers to create a reasonable balance of population in the area. Is there a need to reconsider whether a circular should be issued to such authorities to enable them to exert the necessary powers to create a balanced population?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I do not want to discriminate against the elderly, as I shall be elderly myself in due course. My hon. Friend should not be against the elderly being able to find suitable places in which to live where they want to live. I think my hon. Friend will agree that we do not want councils to engage in social engineering to decide who shall live where; people should decide where they wish to live for themselves. The planning legislation is solely about the merits of certain land uses, not about who should take up those uses. That has always been so and always should be so.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Baker Mr Nicholas Baker , North Dorset

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, although it is quite correct that local authorities should not engage in social engineering, people should be advised to think carefully before retiring in a place away from their friends, family and former workplace?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I must again say that I hesitate to give that advice. I can only tell my hon. Friend that when I retire I want to get as far away from this place as possible.