Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2020 - Motion to Regret

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:18 pm on 27th October 2020.

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Photo of Lord German Lord German Liberal Democrat 3:18 pm, 27th October 2020

I thank the Minister, but first, I congratulate the noble Lords, Lord Sikka and Lord Lancaster, on their excellent maiden speeches today. They have both demonstrated the contribution they will be able to make to this House—the noble Lord, Lord Sikka, on financial and tax matters and the noble Lord, Lord Lancaster, on defence matters. I must say I am really looking forward to the contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Lancaster, to fireworks and rebellion; put those together and I think that might be something I would encourage him to take part in in your Lordships’ House. While I may have contrary views to both noble Lords, they have shown they will be able to add a great deal to the richness of our debates and considerations.

I am also grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed to this debate today. What has been amply demonstrated by the noble Lord, Lord Crisp, and others is that these regulations have great significance to the way we conduct planning activity. My noble friend Lord Greaves, the noble Baronesses, Lady Bakewell, Lady Jones and Lady Uddin, and other noble Lords have shown how the needs of local communities, as well as broader needs, are not reflected in the measures.

Brownfield sites and design quality have been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Herbert, and he was critical of the tiered system of legislation to come. I look forward to his contributions in that debate when we have it—because there will be debate. A significant part of the reason for this debate today is that we have not been offered that opportunity before.

The noble Lord, Lord Crisp, and others raised significant concerns about the extension in the use of permitted development rights and also that these procedures do not lead to well-designed additional affordable homes, a point raised and reinforced by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and my noble friend Lady Thornhill, who also joined in the criticism but emphasised the financial model that drives new homes and called for review and evaluation. My noble friend Greaves pointed out the lack of consultation on these measures—another process issue, which is one of the reasons I brought this Motion in the first place.

As noted by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, 90% of planning permissions for housing being approved and a million homes that have been given planning permission and not yet built demonstrates to me that it is not the planning system that is at fault but the system of delivering homes. I hope the Minister will reflect further on this as we consider the primary legislation of the planning Bill, which is soon to come.

I was hopeful that the constitutional element of this debate would be answered by the Minister, for whom I have a great deal of respect, given his previous service to local government. The head legislation, the primary legislation, which gives authority over these regulations is 30 years old, and clearly, as planning and community needs have altered, updating is important. The fundamental question remains: why were these regulations not rolled into the primary legislation the Government are proposing?

I note there has not been wild enthusiasm from contributors to the debate for the detail of these proposals, but scrutiny, evaluation and debate would have informed and improved these plans. Although I am grateful for the response from the Minister, he has not answered that fundamental issue. However, as we will have many opportunities to debate these matters further, I do not intend to press my Motion.

Motion withdrawn.

Sitting suspended.