Amendment 247

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill - Committee (10th Day) – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 20 April 2023.

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Photo of Baroness Pinnock Baroness Pinnock Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Levelling Up, Communities and Local Government) 4:45, 20 April 2023

My Lords, I have a lot of sympathy with the views expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, about conservation areas and permitted development rights. For residents who are fortunate enough to live in a conservation area, it is both a privilege and a responsibility. When the noble Lord was trying balance homeowners wanting to make appropriate changes—and sometimes inappropriate changes—and local planning conservation officers seeming to rule the roost over what is and is not appropriate, I asked myself, “Where were the local councillors in this mix?”. Where I am a councillor, I have conservation areas in my ward, and where there is a disagreement about what is appropriate, I ask for it to go to the planning committee. Then, it has a public airing, which is precisely what should happen. The planning conservation officer states one view and residents another, and a decision is made. One of the great purposes of planning committees is to air views, balance them out and come to a conclusion.

I also have concerns about always expecting to maintain the standards of a building that was created 100 or 200 years ago in wood and glass, when the rest of us are trying very hard to increase insulation, particularly of windows and doors. A couple of years ago, I visited a window manufacturer not too far from here which makes heritage windows from plastic. I could not tell the difference, even though I have an interest in conservation and heritage. In our regulations, we need to enable that to happen so that buildings remain appropriate for the time, while conserving the best features and personality of a townscape, which I know the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, wants to retain for people to love and enjoy in the future.