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Unauthorised Development

Volume 571: debated on Monday 25 November 2013

11. What recent guidance he has given to local authorities on tackling unauthorised development. [R] (901208)

Councils should take swift enforcement action to tackle unauthorised development. Previously, some councils have been unclear about the powers available to deal with this issue. In August, we sent all councils a guide on the full range of power available to tackle unauthorised occupation on private and public land.

I am very grateful for that response. On the subject of authorised sites, local residents, including Travellers, in the village of Burn in Selby recently fought a successful campaign to prevent the expansion of an extremely large site in the village. Can the Secretary of State confirm that he would not recommend that any Traveller site should dominate in size any neighbouring community?

I am sure my hon. Friend will understand that I cannot comment on a particular site. However, it is immensely important to ensure that where a Traveller site is placed next to a village, the numbers there should not dominate the area. The coalition Government have made a number of changes to policies, and we may be bringing forward further policies to make it easier for local communities to be able to live side by side.

In May 2012, the Government allocated an additional £1.8 million to local councils to deal with the growing problem of beds in sheds. Can the Secretary of State outline how this relationship is working with the Home Office and how many beds in sheds have been discovered?

I will write to the right hon. Gentleman with the numbers, because they are constantly changing. As he is aware, this issue relates to four or five specific London boroughs, and in conjunction with the Home Office we have taken enforcement action. It is important to emphasise that the people occupying such places are often very vulnerable, are often being abused by employers and often have dubious immigration status. Part of the process is to offer some help and assistance to them. As I say, on the numbers, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to write to him separately.