Restrictions On Power To Impose Planning Conditions

Neighbourhood Planning Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:15 pm on 28th March 2017.

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Photo of Natascha Engel Natascha Engel Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Lords amendments 10 and 11, 13 50 21 and 85 to 90.

Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Housing, Planning and London)

In contrast to the debate on pubs, which was really an issue that arose on Report thanks to the hon. Member for Leeds North West tabling his amendment, there have been extensive debates on the planning conditions clause during the passage of the Bill through both Houses. The Government have tabled a number of amendments seeking to address the concerns that have been raised in both Houses and in response to our consultation on the measures.

In particular, the Government have tabled two amendments to clause 12 that take forward recommendations in the 15th report of the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. The first of these is Lords amendment 21, which would apply the affirmative parliamentary procedure to any regulations made under subsection (1). The Government accept the Committee’s view that the negative procedure is not an adequate level of Parliamentary scrutiny for the exercise of the power, and have amended the Bill accordingly.

The second is amendment 14, which also responds to a recommendation from the Committee—namely, that the Secretary of State should be required to consult before making regulations under subsection (6). Provided this requirement to consult is put into place, the Committee said that it would regard the negative procedure as an adequate level of parliamentary scrutiny for this particular power. The Government agree with this recommendation, as it is important that consideration is given to the views of developers, local planning authorities and other interested parties before making regulations under subsection (6). Amendment 14 therefore places a duty on the Secretary of State to carry out such consultation before making such regulations.

Lords amendment 18 responds to views expressed in response to the Government’s consultation on improving the use of planning conditions. A number of respondents across a range of sectors including local authorities, developers and interest groups, called for guidance. They asked that, if the Government’s proposed powers under this clause come into force, updated planning guidance should be issued on the operation of the provisions. The Government agree with that view. We made a commitment in our response to the consultation to publish updated guidance to support the changes, if they are brought forward. In order to give assurance to all parties, amendment 18 would place a duty on the Secretary of State to issue guidance to planning authorities on the operation of this clause, and any regulations made under it. This guidance will set out advice that may be useful and of interest to applicants, local authorities and other interested parties.

Amendment 12, which is not a Government amendment, seeks further to constrain the use of the proposed power in subsection (1). It is right that the Government do not intend to use the power to prevent local authorities from imposing planning conditions that accord with the national planning policy framework. However, section 100ZA already has this effect. Any regulations made under subsection (1) must be consistent with the test for planning conditions in the national planning policy framework. Subsection (2) provides that the Secretary of State must make provision under subsection (1) only if it is appropriate to ensure that conditions meet the policy tests in paragraph 206 of the national planning policy framework. For the benefit of the House, those are that planning conditions should be imposed only when they are necessary; when they are relevant to planning and to the development being permitted; when they are enforceable and precise; and when they are reasonable in all other respects.

The Government’s case is very simple: Lords amendment 12 is unnecessary. More than that, by placing the policy test on the face of the Bill as we have done, rather than referring to the framework by name, the Government are making it clear in the legislation that the purpose of the power is to ensure compliance with those tests. Further constraints on the Secretary of State’s power in subsection (1) will be applied by Lords amendments 14 and 21, which I have covered—they require public consultation and the affirmative parliamentary procedure to any regulations made under the power.

On Lords amendments 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17, 19 and 20, and 85 to 90, clause 12 provides the Secretary of State with a power to make regulations about what kind of conditions may or may not be imposed on a grant of planning permission, and in what circumstances. The proposed power will apply in respect of any grant of planning permission. It had included permission granted by order of the Secretary of State, the Mayor of London, local authorities or neighbourhood planning groups. In the light of the responses we received to the consultation on the proposed new power, we have decided that it is not appropriate to apply the power to the making of orders, as opposed to applying it to the granting of planning permission. We have therefore sought to amend the clause to that effect.

It is important that the order-making body can set conditions that frame the type of development that would be acceptable. That could include a condition that a development including a change of use is completed within three years. Such a condition may be unreasonable when imposed following the consideration of a planning application, but we do not believe it would be unreasonable in the very different exercise of granting permission by order. Consequently, we propose that the power will not apply to the grants of planning permissions by development orders, simplified planning zones, enterprise zones and development control procedures, meaning when the Government’s authorisation is required.

With those arguments in mind, I commend amendments 10, 11, 13 to 21, and 85 to 90. I also ask the House to disagree with Lords amendments 12 which, as I have said, is unnecessary given the clear safeguards in the Bill.

Lords amendment 12 disagreed to.

Lords amendments 10, 11, 13 to 21 and 85 to 90 agreed to.

Clause 1