asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on his policy on receiving representations from hon. Members in connection with planning inquiries where the local inquiry has been held and the matter is sub judice pending the inspector's report.
If such representations raise points of substance not made at the inquiry the standard practice is to secure consent to disclose them to the parties to the inquiry and invite their comments. I would then take into account the representations and comments along with the inspector's report in reaching my decision.In the case of an appeal transferred for decision by an inspector the matter is governed by Rule 14 of the Town and Country Planning Appeals (Determination by Appointed Persons) (Inquiries Procedure) Rules 1974. These provide that if the inspector proposed to take into consideration any new evidence or new issue of fact not raised at the inquiry which he considers material to his decision he must give the parties an opportunity of commenting on it or of asking for the inquiry to be reopened. He must reopen the inquiry if asked to do so in these circumstances.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to introduce a strict time limit between the holding of a local inquiry by one of his Department's inspectors and the publication of his final decision; and if he will make a statement.
This was one of the recommendations made in the Eighth Report from the Expenditure Committee, Session 1976–1977. We shall be publishing our response shortly.