Change of use of drinking establishments

Part of Neighbourhood Planning Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:00 pm on 28th March 2017.

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Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London) 2:00 pm, 28th March 2017

That has got to be one of the kindest invitations that I have received so far in my ministerial career. I have already given an undertaking and I very much look forward to visiting the hon. Gentleman’s constituency. I am trying to combine it with an event in the Sheffield city region, looking at housing. The hon. Gentleman serves on the Public Bill Committee and he is a passionate advocate of neighbourhood planning. I know that he has worked hard in own constituency to encourage neighbourhood planning. I am very much looking forward to meeting some of the community groups with him. Members of my private office are in the Box and will have heard that commitment. I hope that we can get the hon. Gentleman a date as soon as possible—with or without the benefit of a visit to a local pub.

At the same time as making these changes, we also want to protect local planning authorities from any compensation liability arising from the removal of national permitted development rights. We will do this by amending the compensation regulations to limit to 12 months the period of any potential liability on local planning authorities when the rights are removed.

Let me now take the opportunity to update hon. Members on the outcome of the debate in the other place in respect of the permitted development right for the change of use from office to residential. This was an issue debated at some length in Committee, and I know that there are differences of opinion in the House. Hon. Members will know that the permitted development right is making an important contribution to housing delivery, with over 12,800 homes delivered—thanks to this right—in the year ending March 2016. The Government have always recognised that in certain areas there have been concerns about the local impact of this right, so we have outlined an approach that provides flexibility for those areas that are meeting their housing requirements to have a greater say over where the permitted development right for the change of use from office to residential should apply.

For those areas that are delivering 100% or more of their housing requirement—the figure identified in their local plan—that can continue to do so after removal of the right, and that are able to demonstrate that it is necessary to remove the right to protect the amenity and wellbeing of their area, the Secretary of State will not seek to limit article 4 directions applying to that area. We intend to publish the first housing delivery test data in November. For those who are not familiar with it, this was one of the key reforms set out in the housing White Paper. We will now hold local authorities to account not just for producing a glossy plan, but for delivering the houses set out in the plan on an annual basis. This will indicate to local authorities in November whether this additional article 4 flexibility would apply to directions brought forward after that date. For those interested in further information about this change, it can be found in House of Lords Library in a letter from my ministerial colleague Lord Bourne, dated 18 March. We shall provide detailed guidance before November.

We are making a further change by bringing forward regulation to enable local planning authorities to charge planning application fees when permitted development rights have been removed by an article 4 direction. This recognises the resource commitments in those areas that have removed the permitted development right for sound policy reasons. The Government’s position remains that although the permitted development right makes an important contribution to delivering the homes that we desperately need, we have with these two small changes demonstrated a degree of flexibility to allow those local authorities that are delivering the homes that are needed in their area to apply an article 4 direction if they wish, and then to be able to charge planning application fees in the relevant areas.