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

I think my hon. Friend shares my concern that we need to ensure that St Albans gets an up-to-date local plan in place as quickly as possible to provide the housing that is so desperately needed in that part of the world. My hon. Friend has spoken to me about it several times, and I know that other Members who represent the local authority area share her concern. We need to avoid perverse incentives, and my reassurance to my hon. Friend is that the Government will be doing plenty of other things to make sure that local authorities deliver the housing that is required in their areas. Where people have legitimate concerns about the impact of permitted development rights on the level of office space in their area—my hon. Friend is clearly one of them—provided that the council is delivering the required housing, we want to allow some flexibility. I know that she will work closely with me to try to make sure that St Albans makes progress on that issue.

To conclude, and returning to planning for pubs, I hope that hon. Members will accept the assurances I have given today—indeed, that seems to be the case—and agree that we have reflected the will of Parliament. I have met Greg Mulholland who is in his place, and my hon. Friend Charlotte Leslie who is not in her place but who has lobbied me extensively on this issue. Indeed, Members of both Houses have spoken with great passion about the need to allow for local consideration of the change of use or demolition of all pubs. Our amendments in lieu set out how we will ensure the successful delivery of these changes, and I can commit today to laying the secondary regulation by July—essentially as soon as we can after the Bill hopefully receives Royal Assent. On that basis, I hope that all hon. Members will support this amendment.