The Government take the problem of unauthorised development seriously. Among other measures, the Localism Bill, which completed its Committee stage in the House of Commons on 10 March, includes provisions aimed at strengthening local planning authorities’ powers to tackle the issue.
Unauthorised developments, particularly illegal Traveller sites, have poisoned relations in our communities. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that he will use to the full the new powers in his Localism Bill to ensure that local councils are given the powers they need to determine these issues on the basis of local need and historic demand, not imposed national quotas?
People in Hightown, Melling and Lydiate in my constituency are concerned at the possible development of the green belt. Will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to confirm whether the new legislation will make it harder for developers to build on the green belt, and will he allay the fears of many people that it is a developers’ charter?
No, the way in which we intend to deal with problems of unauthorised developments is to get tougher. We are doing four things. We are going to deal with the question of concealed buildings and those who seek to hide a dwelling behind a construction; we will be increasing the penalties; we are going to ensure that people can appeal either for an enforcement order or a retrospective planning application, not both; and we are going to increase the ability to deal with fly-posting. Our general policy is this: we intend to ensure that the green belt is held solid and absolutely inviolate by this Administration. We are not going to follow the tenets of the former Labour Government by concreting over the green belt.