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Town And Country Planning (Enforcement Procedure)

Volume 931: debated on Monday 9 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he plans to introduce legislation to improve the enforcement procedure laid down in the Town and Country Planning Act 1971; and if he will make a statement.

The Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill, introduced by the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Smith), has Government support and is intended to enable local planning authorities to require unauthorised activities to cease while the enforcement procedures are pursued. This is the most urgently required improvement in this field. My right hon. Friend has also consulted representative bodies on possible further amendment of the enforcement procedures and is considering the comments he has received. I cannot say when legislation to effect appropriate amendments will be introduced.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has evidence of the ignoring of enforcement orders under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971; if so, what remedial steps he plans; and if he will make a statement.

There is evidence that uses of land are being instituted in circumstances in which planning permission is clearly required but not obtained. When enforcement action is taken by the local planning authority, it is open to the persons on whom the notice is served to appeal to the Secretary of State and such an appeal stays the notice. Until an enforcement notice has come into effect and the period for compliance has run, it is not an offence to continue to use the land for that purpose. I accept that this opens the door in some instances to deliberate flouting of planning control. I have made this clear in the debates on the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington and I am grateful to him for introducing this measure.