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Volume 124: debated on Friday 18 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to require every planning applicant to advertise at his cost the planning proposal on site.

No. Apart from statutory requirements for notification and publicity, I believe that it is best left to local planning authorities to decide the extent of local publicity which is desirable in the individual case.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how he proposes that he, his planning inspectorate and local planning authorities, when assessing the impact of proposed retail developments, should take account of effects on a significant part, although not all, of a city centre, in the context of his recently circulated draft guidance which refers to assessing impact on town or city centres as a whole.

New retail development can influence patterns of shopping and other activities throughout a city or town centre; it would be of doubtful utility to attempt to assess the possible effects on one area within such a centre.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what data and criteria considering planning applications and planning appeals use, where the impact of major retail development proposals on existing shopping centres has to be taken into account; and what action he is taking to ensure that up-to-date and suitable data are available.

The relevant considerations are set out in a statement by the then Secretary of State on 5 July 1985, at columns 277–8, and quoted in the consultation paper on major retail development that I issued on 17 September. I understand that local authority representatives are preparing a paper for this Department on the need for further data on retailing.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what advice he will give and what action he will take to deal with competing speculative proposals for major retail developments in an area which artificially raises site values, so preventing their redevelopment for other uses which do not command the same land values.

I do not intend to interfere with the ability of developers and others to acquire land on such terms as they consider satisfactory.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he proposes to take to ensure consistency in the treatment of all major retail developments proposals, so that they follow planning guidance, whether they are located in an enterprise zone, simplified planning zone or an area covered by a normal planning regime.

It is inherent in the concepts of enterprise zones (EZ) and simplified planning zones (SPZ) that they are subject to different planning regimes from that which applies elsewhere. Whether a particular EZ or SPZ scheme grants permission for major retail development depends on the precise terms in which the scheme is framed.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what account he takes of the knowledge and advice of such bodies as Age Concern, the Disability Alliance and the National Consumer Council, in determining the needs of the less mobile so as to ensure that these are adequately represented and safeguarded in his planning guidance on major retail developments to local authorities.

The draft planning guidance that we issued on 17 September drew attention to the needs of less mobile people for access to shopping facilities. Sections 29A and 29B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 impose a duty on local planning authorities to draw applicants' attention to their responsibilities under legislation relating to disabled persons when granting permission for retail and other types of development.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he has taken to ensure that his planning guidance to local authorities on major retail developments is sufficiently up to date; and what steps he will be taking to ensure that that guidance is updated to take account of changing circumstances and retail pressures.

On 17 September we issued a consultation paper seeking comments on a proposed new statement of planning policy on major retail development. We are now considering the comments received, with a view to publishing the final version shortly. Planning guidance is revised as necessary.