New Clause 10 — Local Development Plan

Part of Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 9th December 2003.

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Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government) 1:45 pm, 9th December 2003

The hon. Gentleman makes an extremely good point. I would have no objection—in fact, I would find it desirable—if when the independent inspector makes his report he were to say, "And 150 residents of Little Acacia on the Green objected to this proposal with the same evidence. Although I took evidence from Mrs. Black, I had similar evidence from another 149 residents." That would be perfectly reasonable, and I do not seek to stop it in any way whatever. We need some form of power, however, to stop repetitive evidence. After all, in this House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you would soon rule me out of order if you felt that what I was saying was unduly repetitive—indeed, Standing Orders provide that you do that. A court of law may do exactly the same thing. There does not therefore seem to be any reason why an independent inspector in a planning hearing should not be able to do the same.

My new clause provides for strict times within which various events should happen. Again, the Secretary of State reserves powers to do that by regulations in the Bill. Those are arbitrary, however, and can be revised at any time. It is vital that timetables, or at least the main timetables, are laid down in statute. Otherwise, the new system will fall into exactly the same failure as the present system. The problem with the present one is that nobody forces local authorities to draw up their plans and to revise them within a certain timetable. Unless that is rigorously upheld, with the complexity of the new system, we will hear every excuse under the sun as to why the new plans are not to be revised. My new clause therefore provides that within five years the plan and the documents must be revised. On reflection, the plan must be looked at but it does not have to be revised—some documents, however, must be revised within the five-year period.