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Volume 558: debated on Monday 4 February 2013

We have recently announced a significant package of improvements to support economic growth and the free school movement. We will continue to keep the use classes system under review.

I thank the Minister for that answer, although I was more after details on the regulations for changing a pub into a supermarket, a process for which there is absolutely no need for change-of-use planning permission. Does he have any plans to introduce planning permission for that, so that local people have a say in a change of use that significantly alters the communities in which they live?

All local authorities have the possibility of resorting to an article 4 direction to restrict the application of a change-of-use permitted development right in their area, and they can do so if they are concerned about the loss of pubs in the way that the hon. Lady describes.

Will my hon. Friend ensure that very clear planning guidelines are introduced for five-year housing supply, housing numbers and, above all, deliverability, because on the ground at the moment the methodology is arbitrarily decided on appeal? It is very unsatisfactory when local people and local authorities cannot make decisions that benefit their areas.

My hon. Friend rightly says that it is important that local authorities take an objective approach to the assessment of their housing needs and of the five-year supply. Lord Taylor of Goss Moor is conducting a review of the complete set of planning guidance, and high on his list of priorities is producing new guidance on exactly that question, certainly before the end of July.

Local authorities that refuse permission for yet another betting shop in their high street find that at the moment the refusal is often overturned by the Planning Inspectorate. Is the Minister examining the possibility of a separate use class for betting shops?

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is reviewing the whole situation for betting shops, but we have no specific plans to do as the right hon. Gentleman suggests at this time.

The Minister is right to say that local authorities can, and indeed should, introduce local planning policies to deal with the kind of problems that we have heard about. Will he therefore join my condemnation and that of the all-party save the pub group of the extraordinary decision taken by the British Beer and Pub Association to seek to overturn Cambridge city council’s elected policy for pubs, given that that is what the council wants to do and the people want it as well?

If the policy of the city of Cambridge is properly arrived at as an expression of local feeling, I am sure that it will be able to defend it from any challenge from whatever quarter.