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Planning Controls

Volume 974: debated on Wednesday 21 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made in relaxing planning controls.

We are discussing with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities widening of the range of developments which automatically obtain planning permission and hope to introduce the necessary legislative changes early next year. We also published on 4 September a list of Government controls over local authorities which we propose to relax.

I thank my hon. Friend for that information. In those discussions may I ask him to take particular care to look at the difficulties presently experienced by small and medium-sized building firms which make up the bulk of the industry? Is he aware that they face difficulties in planning where the areas already designated have been taken up by the much larger firms, leaving the smaller firms in the difficult position of being unable to obtain land to carry out any future project?

I assure my hon. Friend that we agree that the businesses of the type that he has described need help. One of the proposals that we have made for relaxation of planning permission is that industrialists who wish to extend their factories by up to one-fifth or 1,000 square metres shall no longer require planning permission. This is just one way in which we can help people of the kind mentioned by my hon. Friend.

What pressure is the Minister exerting behind closed doors on local authorities to introduce free economic zones within inner urban areas?

This matter has been raised in other quarters, though not simply in relation to planning matters. Obviously the Government are anxious to consider any set of new proposals which will enable jobs and other forms of industry to be attracted to areas that might not otherwise be able to receive the benefit of them.