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Local Authority Land (Planning Permission)

Volume 100: debated on Wednesday 25 June 1986

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will bring forward proposals to limit the power of local authorities to give planning permission over land they own.

In general, the present arrangements for making this type of decision appear to operate satisfactorily, but the Select Committee on the Environment referred to this matter in its recent examination of witnesses and we shall consider the matter again if it makes recommendations on it in its forthcoming report.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply. However, will he look at the general principle, because there is something seriously wrong? Would he not be concerned, like me, if a local education authority, such as Dorset county council, gave itself permission to sell a piece of land belonging to a school playing field despite the objections of all the other local authorities and eveybody interested in, or adjacent to, the project? That is a matter of concern, and I hope that my hon. Friend will look into it.

My hon. Friend will not expect me to comment on the particular case that he has raised. However, he can rest assured that we are sympathetic to his general point. Local planning authorities are, of course, answerable to their electorates for the way in which they discharge their responsibilities. They do not have complete freedom of action. However, my hon. Friend can rest assured that we shall consider the matter carefully.