Change of use of drinking establishments

Part of Neighbourhood Planning Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:15 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) 3:15 pm, 28th March 2017

I am happy to say that it is quite clear, both from the debate in the other place and this debate today, that Parliament has expressed a very clear will on this issue. Obviously, I hope that everybody in the industry will, in the intervening period, respect that the clear will of Parliament has been expressed in this debate.

My hon. Friend Mrs Main made the very important point that the Government have listened not just on this issue, but on the issue of business rates in the Budget. I note that she was one of those who was lobbying in that regard. She raised some concerns in relation to offices and residential permitted development rights. I cannot add a great deal more than what I said in my speech, but I can clarify one point, which is that her council is free now to look at an article 4 direction for a specific area of the city if there is a problem. What we are looking at here is our willingness to allow an article 4 direction over the whole of a local authority area. It is right that we allow that only where local authorities are delivering the housing that their communities need.

The hon. Member for Leeds North West tweeted me shortly after we tabled the amendment saying that everyone knows that he is uncompromising and robust, but that he is also fair. He demonstrated that in his kind words today. Obviously, I am the Minister standing at the Dispatch Box, but he was right to pay tribute to the Secretary of State, who played an important role in agreeing this policy change. It was good of the hon. Gentleman to put that on the record. I was going to do so myself. I also pay tribute to the excellent officials who have worked on the Bill team and in the relevant policy areas. The “elegance of the solution”—if I can use the hon. Gentleman’s phrase—is all theirs and not mine.

The hon. Gentleman raised two specific issues. The first was whether we can look over time at extra protection for community pubs. We can certainly discuss that with those who are interested. Some of those issues may be to do with planning, but they may spill over into other areas of Government policy. He also raised particular concerns about some of the planning policies of authorities that have put protections in place. Clearly, if there are local plan policies that explicitly refer to A4 drinking establishments, they can be updated to reflect the policy change that we are making today to cover the mixed A4-A3 use.

The hon. Gentleman raised a particular point about A4, which I did not entirely understand. He might want to explain that now, but it might be better if he wrote to me, because I can write back to him and give him the assurance that he needs.

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