New Clause 8 - Mayoral development orders

Infrastructure Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 13th January 2015.

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‘(1) Schedule (Mayoral development orders) (Mayoral development orders) has effect.

(2) The Secretary of State may by regulations make consequential provision in connection with any provision made by that Schedule.

(3) Regulations under this section may amend, repeal, revoke or otherwise modify the application of any enactment (but, in the case of an Act, only if the Act was passed before the end of the Session in which this Act is passed).

(4) In this section “enactment” includes an enactment comprised in subordinate legislation within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978.”—(Stephen Williams.)

This amendment and amendments NS1, 38, 39, 41 and 43 enable the Mayor of London to make Mayoral development orders granting planning permission for development on specified sites in Greater London in response to an application from each local planning authority in whose area any part of a site is located.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Full Member)

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government new schedule 1—Mayoral development orders.

Government amendments 38, 39, 41 and 43.

Photo of Stephen Williams Stephen Williams The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 3:45 pm, 13th January 2015

Good afternoon, Sir Roger and Committee members. We return to changes to the planning regime. Members of the Committee will note that Government amendments 38, 39, 41 and 43 are consequential on new clause 8. There is an urgent need to ensure that the planning system continues to support development, including for housing. As a further contribution, the Government have introduced the new clause to recognise the opportunity to plan proactively for housing and growth in London. The new clause will give the Mayor of London the power to make mayoral development orders which grant planning permission for development on specified sites within Greater London. The process of making a mayoral development order would be initiated by the relevant local planning authorities, which would be any London boroughs in whose area any part of a site is located, and which would apply to  the Mayor to ask him to make a mayoral development order. Thereafter, those London boroughs would have to agree before the draft order is published for consultation and the final order is brought into force.

The Government have worked with the Greater London authority and with London Councils, the body that promotes the interests of London’s 32 boroughs and of the City of London. We have listened carefully to their suggestions, and as a result of that collaboration, the proposed power provides a positive tool to support the delivery of development in London. Committee members will be acutely aware that there is significant unmet housing need in London. Census data project that London’s population will increase by 2 million between 2011 and 2036. The Mayor has identified a need for between 49,000 and 62,000 new homes per annum between 2015 and 2026. “Further Alterations to the London Plan” has identified a capacity of 42,000 new homes per annum at the moment, which presents significant challenges for the Mayor in helping to deliver the housing needed in London.

Mayoral development orders have the potential to help accelerate the delivery of housing and other development. In terms of their design and scope, mayoral development orders have been closely modelled on existing local development orders, which allow local planning authorities to grant planning permission for development. Local development orders have been successful in the Government’s enterprise zone programme by simplifying and speeding up the planning process and increasing developer confidence. A new power to make mayoral development orders will build on the success of local development orders by enabling the Mayor to support London boroughs that want to plan proactively for development, but do not have the existing capacity to do so. The power will be particularly helpful in relation to complex sites that cross local authority boundaries inside Greater London.

In conclusion, mayoral development orders are a positive planning tool that will allow London boroughs and the Mayor to collaborate effectively on planning to deliver housing and growth. I therefore urge the Committee to accept this new clause, which provides powers that will help to deliver the jobs and homes that London and Londoners badly need.

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government)

I wish to ask the Minister a number of questions about the new clause. The Opposition understand the need to improve the delivery of new housing in London. From the discussion that has already taken place with London Councils and the Greater London authority, there appears to be support for the proposals. Nevertheless, a number of questions remain. While both organisations—London Councils and the Greater London authority—say that they are broadly supportive, they have a number of questions and we also have a number of questions, not least about whether the measure will deliver the additional homes that are needed. Perhaps we can return to that at a later stage.

Notwithstanding new schedule 1, we know there will be a need for regulations to underpin new clause 8. Will the Minister tell us when those regulations are likely to  be available and by what procedure and how quickly they will go through the House? Will it be an affirmative or negative procedure?

As the Minister will know, local development orders do not have to have section 106 agreements applied to them. That has caused us and a number of organisations concern that the housing zones that the Mayor of London is setting up, and to which mayoral development orders will apply, will not have any affordable housing attached to them. It could be that the affordable housing is being negotiated through some other mechanism, but it is not clear to us at the moment what that might be or whether the Government intend to do something in the regulations to ensure that affordable housing will be applied to those development orders. I am interested in clarification on that point from the Minister.

We understand that the housing zones, given their name, will be primarily for housing. We all recognise the need for additional housing in London. However, housing has to be underpinned by appropriate infrastructure. What reassurance can the Minister give that these new houses will be in mixed developments and that they will have the infrastructure, schools and additional services and jobs necessary to make these housing zones operate?

What consultation arrangements will there be for the new regulations? The Minister will know that, although London Councils and the GLA are broadly supportive, they want to see the regulations and have an opportunity to comment on them. They want to ensure that there is sufficient scrutiny of the new regulations, and everybody wants to know what the time frame will be.

Photo of Nick Raynsford Nick Raynsford Labour, Greenwich and Woolwich

I have only a couple of points to add to those ably made by my hon. Friend. Introducing this, the Minister talked a lot about the scale of the problem in London, and that is indeed very real. He described the particular effect of the mayoral development order but made it clear that existing development order powers are available to local authorities, so this is most likely to be useful only in cross-borough developments, where there is, as he described, a likely need for a complex land assembly where mayoral powers could complement those of individual local authorities.

I want to probe the Minister a little bit on how many new homes he believes that this will generate, given that we are not talking about a power that does not exist? We are only talking about a power available for particular sites that cross borough boundaries, where it is likely to have a stimulative impact that is not there at the moment. How much of an impact is it likely to have, or is this a fig leaf covering what is already a very serious problem, where output is far short of the level necessary to meet need?

Photo of Stephen Williams Stephen Williams The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

First, I turn to the shadow Minister’s questions. Her first and third questions were essentially the same, and were about when draft regulations will be available, the procedure to be followed, and consultation. The regulations will be drawn up in due course and will be published. I am sure there will be an opportunity for people to comment on them at that time. One thing I can confirm is that the negative procedure will be used when those regulations are ready to come before Parliament.

Both the hon. Member for City of Durham and the right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich asked about the effect of the new mayoral development orders and how we can be sure that unmet housing need in London will be satisfied. We can all make predictions and speculate to our hearts’ content on how many new homes might be provided as a result of the mayoral development compared with the status quo. As a non-London MP, I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman asked that question, given that a mayoral development order would only proceed if a London borough—the London borough of Greenwich or any other London borough—said to the Mayor and the GLA, “We would like your help, Mr Mayor and the GLA, to prepare the detailed planning brief for this particular site, in order that we can bring forward growth opportunities in that area.”

Underlying the new clause is the premise that professional and technical expertise will be provided to a London borough if it feels that it needs that expertise from the GLA to bring forward a particularly complicated site. It would be up to the London borough to say what the planning brief for that site should be on deliverables and outcomes, such as how many housing units there are and whether it is a mixed development. Although I mentioned housing in particular, that was not meant to exclude other forms of development. A mayoral development order could indeed bring forward a mixed-use development. It would be up to London boroughs, which have their own policies on the proportion of affordable housing. The GLA is an important partner for the Government’s affordable housing programme, discharging what are the Homes and Communities Agency’s responsibilities elsewhere in England.

All I can say in answer to the questions from the hon. Lady and the right hon. Gentleman is that we will simply have to wait and see. However, this is not something that the Government are seeking to impose on London. It is something that we believe will enable collaboration between the 32 London boroughs and the Mayor, in particular on cross-border situations. It is a reform that may speed up the planning process and provide ready-made sites so that a developer can come along and deliver the vision for that site as formulated by the London borough with the help of the GLA. With those, I hope, reassuring remarks, I hope that Committee members are minded to accept the new clause.

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government)

I am not sure that I am reassured by the Minister’s comments. We welcome the fact that developments can be mixed-use developments, to ensure that we get the sort of communities we need, but I am not reassured at all on how affordability and affordable housing will be delivered in the absence of section 106 agreements. I would like the Minister to say something more about that. I am very unhappy that the Minister has not been able to give us a time frame or tell us what consultation arrangements will be applied to the regulations whenever they appear, and I am extremely sad that the Minister is going to use the negative procedure.

Photo of Stephen Williams Stephen Williams The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Before the hon. Lady draws her remarks to a close and we come to some decision on this, I would like to say that the intention is that the mayoral development orders will closely model existing local development orders used by other local authorities  around England. Some 70 such orders have been introduced so far, 45 of which are in enterprise zones. I have not heard of any particular problems of the nature the hon. Lady describes emanating from those 70 local development orders in place outside London. The intention here is simply to facilitate a similar process in the GLA.

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) 4:00 pm, 13th January 2015

Nevertheless, the Minister will understand that issues of affordability are particularly acute in London, and there is a need for reassurance about how affordable housing will be delivered. It would also be extremely helpful to the Committee’s deliberations to have some idea of the time frame we are working to. In broad terms, however, we support the wish of the Mayor, the GLA and London councils to deliver more housing. For that reason, we will not vote against the new clause.

Question put and agreed to.

New clause 8 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.