Lord Greenhalgh: My Lords, we have had an interesting and wide-ranging debate on these regulations. I thank noble Lords for their contributions. We have discussed an essential amendment to the 2012 fees regulations to introduce a new prior approval fee for a new category of permitted development rights for the construction of new homes. This permitted development right supports our ambition to get Britain...
Lord Greenhalgh: My Lords, the regulations we are considering today were laid in draft before this House on 6 July. If approved and made, they will introduce a fee for applications for prior approval for a new category of permitted development right for the construction of new dwelling houses. This new category of permitted development is delivered across a package of new measures recently made and laid,...
Lord Greenhalgh: The new permitted development rights and changes to the use classes order that we announced on 21 July will reduce planning bureaucracy, speed up housing delivery, support homeowners and families, and help to renew our town centres. We keep all new policies under review, including in respect of their impact on housing delivery and the wider community.
Lord Greenhalgh: My Lords, I point out that permitted development has yielded 60,000 homes that would not otherwise have been available. On the point on quality, the report raises some concerns about the quality of some of the schemes developed under permitted development rights. We have made changes in respect of requirements for adequate natural light, and that should deal with some of the issues raised in...
Lord Greenhalgh: Space standards are of course outlined in building regulations, and there are strict requirements with regard to building safety covering all development, including permitted development. That should ensure that we see high-quality homes as a result.
Lord Greenhalgh: The noble Lord makes an important point about the importance of ensuring that we have adequate infrastructure to fuel the continued delivery of homes, and that the Housing Infrastructure Fund will be the means by which a number of these opportunities will be unlocked. However, this of course has to go through the spending review process.
Lord Greenhalgh: My noble friend knows that open space, sports and recreation facilities are taken into account in the National Planning Policy Framework, and there is no suggestion made by the Government that that will not continue to be the case.
Lord Greenhalgh: My Lords, as someone who was a local councillor for 16 years and the leader of a council for six years, I point out that simply because you have prior approval does not mean that local communities are unable to comment. They can comment on individual applications for prior approval under the consultation requirements set out in the general permitted development order of 2015. There are ways...
Lord Greenhalgh: These new measures are about unlocking housing potential and housing growth for the much-needed homes that we need. I point to the fact that we are investing £12 billion to build affordable homes between 2021-22 and 2025-26, which is the biggest single cash investment in affordable housing for a decade. I hope that that reassures my noble friend.
Lord Greenhalgh: My Lords, we cover these standards within existing building regulations, which are updated on a relatively frequent basis. It is then a matter for local authorities to adopt those as part of their local plans.
Lord Greenhalgh: My Lords, the planning system can be improved. We are seeking to do that through the measures that we have outlined as a Government, and will continue to do so with more planning reforms to be announced.
Lord Greenhalgh: My Lords, I point out that the National Planning Policy Framework is clear that local planning authorities are expected to identify all types of housing, including the housing outlined by the noble Baroness.
Lord Greenhalgh: My Lords, certain uses—such as theatres, pubs and other venues—are protected in the planning rules. This will continue to ensure that we have entirely the sorts of uses that the noble Lord is seeking to protect.
Lord Greenhalgh: I am aware of the issue raised by noble Baroness and would be happy to meet her as soon as she is able to.
Lord Greenhalgh: We intend to publish the local recovery devolution White Paper in the autumn. This will set out our plans for expanding devolution across England, building on the success of our directly elected combined authority mayors. Our plans will involve introducing more elected mayors and giving them and existing mayors the powers that they need to lead economic recovery and long-term growth.
Lord Greenhalgh: My Lords, there is no doubt that we share the same ambition to see further decentralisation and devolution over time. This is very much a process. I would not want to pre-empt the White Paper, but we have made a commitment to directly elected mayors as the point of accountability to lead economic recovery.
Lord Greenhalgh: I note the points about the electoral register. That is very much an endeavour for all tiers of government, including local government and the electoral registration officers who help to ensure that we have a fuller register of electors. It is important that we continue to make every effort to do that.
Lord Greenhalgh: Evidence in a report by Ernst & Young in 2016 showed that around £30 million of savings could be realised annually by unitarisation. However, I am sure that other evidence will be brought forward during the individual discussions that are taking place where authorities want to unitarise.
Lord Greenhalgh: My noble friend is right that decisions that affect local people should be made at a local level. As the Prime Minister recently said, now is the moment to strengthen the incredible partnership between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The White Paper will detail how the UK Government will partner with places across the UK to build a sustainable economic recovery.
Lord Greenhalgh: My Lords, the Government are aware that participation at the local level is important. We continue to support groups such as citizens advice groups and West London Citizens—with which I work—that provide that direct democracy.