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Housing and Planning Bill - Report (5th Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 25th April 2016.

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Photo of Lord True Lord True Conservative 10:00 pm, 25th April 2016

My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the tour de force of my noble friend Lord Younger. In 100 years’ time, historians will read Hansard and marvel at his command of the law of compulsory purchase. I can say to those future historians that I am absolutely amazed by what he has told us.

Because of time, I will be very brief. I seem to be unfortunate in addressing noble Lords at this late hour every day. I have tried to put forward a creative idea in response to the intolerable position whereby public authorities fail to develop land when they should. I declare an interest as a non-executive member of the Royal Parks Board. The Royal Parks are referred to in this amendment, but that is technical.

I spoke to this in Committee at a different point in the Bill. I do not want to detain your Lordships long, but the issue is simple. To give one example, which actually would not be addressed but it is the spirit of the thing, a planning permission that has been granted in my borough, over intense opposition, to build 110 homes has not yet been proceeded with by a public authority after five years. Another example would be an official from a health service body who said, when pressed in discussion with my planning officers recently to proceed with a development on a site brief to develop new homes, a small primary school and medical facilities, “Well, if you keep going on like that, we could leave this lying fallow for years”. That is the sort of mentality that exists too often. I congratulate the Government on trying to get to grips in the Bill with brown land that is held by government departments, public bodies and other statutory and transport undertakings. I will not venture to mention Network Rail.

My amendment is defective in many ways. I am not suggesting that it could operate in this way. But I am encouraged to press forward in the hope that, instead of always criticising local authorities, my noble friend on the Front Bench may be able to say that, over the weeks and months to come, he is prepared to consider giving local authorities the opportunity to do something to get these buildings and developments done. At the moment we are taking incoming fire but are not able to press those who are failing in their public duty, in my estimation. I beg to move.