Amendment 266

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill - Committee (11th Day) – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 24 April 2023.

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Photo of The Earl of Lytton The Earl of Lytton Crossbench 4:30, 24 April 2023

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, raises a matter which concerns me. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Pickering, on this amendment. I am not, and never have been, a member of the licensing committee, but I am bound to admit that I have enjoyed many of the venues that are facilitated by the licensing process.

My example is a little different, because this is not just a matter of licensing. It concerns the 24/7 use of an urban industrial area not very far from one of London’s major international airports—hence it is 24/7. It is an older industrial estate that had been subject to periodic, sporadic, upgrades of buildings. However, the local authority, in its infinite wisdom, gave consent for a piece of land on the edge of this industrial area, which I think had previously been residential back gardens, to be used for a residential development. This triggered a change of policy within the local authority, such that every time somebody wanted to do anything on the industrial estate—change a roller shutter door, have a better loading canopy or something like that—an hours of work restriction would be imposed, so preventing it being used 24/7. I challenged a local elected member on this, who was unaware of what his council had done and what the implications were.

I accept that that is a different situation from what one might call the shared space of a town centre, but I think it is relevant that we have—sorry to use the awful phrase—joined-up policies in relation to all these things, unless we want situations happening on our high streets such as those to which the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, referred to. Later on, we will get to what happens with vacant properties in high streets when—when—we get to the group that is currently number 28 on the Marshalled List before your Lordships. My Amendment 426 in that group is on this issue.

One other issue is what we might call the administrative framework aspect of all this. I think of circumstances to do with the way in which local government or contractors organise such things as waste collection from premises in urban centres; refuse collectors can turn up in the small hours of the morning and cause disruption. I wonder whether we are not sometimes making a rod for our own backs by not thinking ahead about how we organise these things. Some are displaced by concepts such as core time servicing and other such matters relating to our town centres. There tend to be rather individual, single-issue decisions, without looking forwards, backwards or sideways.

I offer a word of caution to the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, on the wording “can be integrated” in the amendment. The phrase “can be integrated” does not necessarily mean that a new development will be integrated. I interpret “can” as facilitative, “will” as something more demonstrative. If the administrative rollout is subject to all manner of change going forward, without a statement of principles and constant monitoring of the unfolding process, we may end up with decisions made on a “moment in time” principle rather than having the dynamic under constant review and consideration.

There is obviously a resource implication here but, unless we do this, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, says—given what has happened in just the last few years and post Covid, with the changes in demand, journeys to work and work-life balance—we will not be anywhere near ahead of the curve in getting this right. Other than that, I strongly support the principle of this amendment; I think it a really worthwhile amendment for consideration by your Lordships.