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Neighbourhood Planning Bill

Volume 782: debated on Tuesday 25 April 2017

Commons Reason and Amendments

Motion A

Moved by

That this House do not insist on its Amendment 12 to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reason 12A.

Commons Reason

12A: Because section 100ZA already has the effect that the regulations must be consistent with the tests for planning conditions in the National Planning Policy Framework.

My Lords, I wish to update the House following the consideration of the Lords amendments to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill in the other place on 28 March. There are two matters before your Lordships’ House that will be discussed today: pubs and planning conditions. I shall be brief in relation to those two areas.

I turn first to planning conditions. As highlighted during the Bill’s passage, the power to make regulations prescribing what kind of conditions may or may not be imposed and in which circumstances is already constrained in the clause. To reiterate, new Section 100ZA(2) already provides that the Secretary of State may make regulations under subsection (1) only if he considers that these regulations are appropriate to ensure that conditions imposed on a grant of planning permission meet the policy tests in paragraph 206 of the National Planning Policy Framework, which states:

“Planning conditions should only be imposed where they are necessary, relevant to planning and to the development to be permitted, enforceable, precise and reasonable in all other respects”.

The amendment originally proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Stunell, sought to restrict the Secretary of State from using this power under subsection (1) to prevent a local planning authority imposing a condition that would otherwise conform to the National Planning Policy Framework. At the heart of the amendment sits a test of whether the regulations prevent a local planning authority imposing a condition that meets the National Planning Policy Framework and, in particular, those policy tests in paragraph 206.

It is right that the Government do not intend to use the power to prevent local authorities imposing planning conditions that accord with the National Planning Policy Framework. However, the specific amendment is unnecessary, as subsection (2) has the effect already that any regulations made under these powers must be consistent with the long-standing policy tests for conditions. Indeed, the subsection makes it clear to those reading the legislation that the power seeks to ensure conformity with those tests. The position of the other place during the consideration of the amendment was that it agreed with the Government that the amendment was unnecessary, and there was no Division on this point. Therefore, I ask noble Lords not to insist on the amendment.

On consideration of the other matter, planning protection for pubs, I am sure I need not remind noble Lords of the amendment introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark. I thank him and others who have worked so constructively with me on this issue, in particular, my noble friends Lord Framlingham, Lady Cumberlege and Lord Hodgson and the noble Lords, Lord Shipley, Lord Tope, Lord Scriven, Lord Berkeley and Lord Cameron of Dillington, the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, and the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York. The Government have carefully reflected on the points raised during the Bill’s passage about the importance local communities place on valued community pubs. I hope noble Lords will agree that we have reflected the will of this House in bringing forward our amendment in lieu, which sets out the detail of the changes we will make to protect and support pubs.

We will amend the Town and Country Planning General Permitted Development (England) Order 2015 to remove all existing permitted development rights for the change of use or demolition of A4 drinking establishments, including pubs. This will include the rights to change to a restaurant or café, financial or professional service, a shop or a temporary office or school. We believe that this is best achieved by retaining the A4 drinking establishments use class for pubs, wine bars and other types of bar. Our intention in doing so is to allow pubs to develop within this use class—for example by opening the pub garden—without facing uncertainty about whether planning permission is required. I hope noble Lords will recognise the benefit of the Government’s approach.

Separately, we have listened to points made in this House about the need for pubs to be able to expand their food offer to meet changing market needs and support their continued viability. Therefore, as part of our support for pubs, we will introduce a new permitted development right to provide them with an additional flexibility. The right will allow the pub to expand its food offer beyond what is ancillary to the pub business without planning permission being required but, importantly, it will not allow the pub to become a restaurant with only a token or ancillary bar.

The changes we are bringing forward address the long-standing call that proposed development which would result in the local pub ceasing to operate should be considered locally, allowing the community to comment on the future of its local pub. It is important that local planning authorities have relevant planning policies in place to support their decision-taking. Noble Lords will be reassured to know that both the Campaign for Real Ale and the British Beer and Pub Association have welcomed our proposed approach and personal commitment to helping our pubs survive and prosper. Noble Lords will be keen to see regulation as soon as possible, to prevent any further loss of pubs without local consideration. I can therefore commit to laying secondary regulation immediately after Royal Assent, to come into force before the end of May.

Noble Lords will be reassured to know that the regulations will contain provision to guard against opportunistic use of the permitted development rights before they are withdrawn. Under the current regulations, a developer must first make a request to confirm whether the pub is nominated or listed as an asset of community value. Where a request has been made fewer than eight weeks before the order comes into force, the order will not allow development to take place. I therefore ask noble Lords not to insist on Amendment 22 and to agree with our amendment in lieu. On that basis, I ask the noble Lords to withdraw the points they made earlier in relation to these two matters and to agree with the two Motions put forward by the Government.

I thank the Minister for what he has said. I remind the House that the matters in Clause 12 have been debated at each stage of the Bill. There is widespread understanding that this is a good Bill and it has a lot of support, but to many noble Lords Clause 12 seemed out of place. It either gives new powers to the Secretary of State to regulate, as he sees fit, the decisions of local planning authorities—which it is feared could be at the expense of the National Planning Policy Framework—or it is of nil effect because the NPPF already provides the boundaries and constraints. The critics have tended to the first view and the Government to the second. The critics, including me, feared that this Government, or a future one, might use this regulatory power in a way that undermined the capacity of local planning authorities to use the NPPF as it was intended. The Government have, quite understandably, taken the contrary view, which the noble Lord, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, has just put.

This House accepted my amendments limiting the Secretary of State’s ability to regulate. That came not just from this quarter of the House—it had widespread cross-party support. Indeed, beyond cross-party, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York also contributed to the debate on Report and supported us in the Lobby. Therefore, this is not in any way a party political or partisan issue; rather, it is about firmly entrenching the right of local planning authorities to set planning conditions in accordance with the NPPF and without fear of being second-guessed or overruled by the Secretary of State’s regulatory power. Putting it another way round, it establishes, or was intended to establish, the primacy of the NPPF as the touchstone of legitimacy in judging planning conditions rather than the latest fad of the spads in the DCLG. That is what my amendment did. The Minister—the noble Lord, Lord Young—was very helpful on Report, as far as his brief would allow, but not sufficiently eloquent to persuade your Lordships of the Government’s point of view, and the amendment was passed.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, for the work he put in subsequent to that and the discussions that we had. We clearly did not have a full meeting of minds, which was probably as much my fault as his. However, gradually, the essence of the argument made across parties at each previous stage of the Bill has seeped into our proceedings and on to the record.

The noble Lord, Lord Bourne, referred to the letter that he circulated, and we see it in the reasons before us for rejecting your Lordships’ original view on this matter. It is extremely important that it is clear that it will always remain lawful and legitimate for conditions to be imposed by local planning authorities provided they conform to the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework. Indeed, that is the reason before us for the Commons rejecting the amendment. I remind your Lordships that the reason states:

“Because section 100ZA already has the effect that the regulations must be consistent with the tests for planning conditions in the National Planning Policy Framework”.

That is clearly the Government’s view and the view of the other place. I hope it will turn out to be the view of all future Governments and Ministers and, in the case of dispute, that the courts will share that benign view and interpretation of Clause 12. I believe that the Government’s declared intentions would be far clearer with the amendment that was originally proposed. However, on this occasion, with grateful thanks to those around the House who supported the original amendment on Report and valiantly joined me in fighting the fight, I will not press the matter any further.

My Lords, I rise to say a word or two on the drinking establishments —pubs—amendment. I was very concerned about the direction of the debate in your Lordships’ House because this sector is under pressure and the more legislative restrictions that are placed on it, the less likely it is that people will invest in it. I accept that the will of the House was not with me. However, I am grateful to my noble friend for considering the matter further. We have reached a reasonable compromise that will provide a way forward. It is obviously a very good thing that both CAMRA and the BBPA have accepted and supported it. It is important that we find a point at which those who own and operate pubs can draw a line under the further changes that may be made to the regulatory environment, given that there is already talk of needing to change the Pubs Code regulator as it is not satisfactory. That came in a couple of years ago. For the moment, however, this is a good compromise that will enable both sides to emerge from the discussions with honour.

My Lords, pubs are a vital part of our nation’s life. I am delighted that the Government have decided to take this action, as I am sure are both CAMRA and the British Beer and Pub Association. The Minister has been the essence of competence and courtesy throughout the whole of this debate and I am extremely grateful to him. I trust that in due course glasses will be raised in pubs up and down the land to both the Minister and the Government.

My Lords, first, I thank my noble friend Lord Stunell for his work on the amendments in relation to the National Planning Policy Framework and for his contribution today. We shall see in the months ahead whether the solution proposed by the Minister manages to hold up against any challenge.

As we have heard, as the Bill progressed we had several lengthy debates in this Chamber on pubs and permitted development for alternative uses. I, too, am grateful to the Minister and to the Government for listening so carefully to the views from across this House and for this revised amendment from the other place, which will help greatly with the protection of pubs at risk. It has the advantage of introducing a permitted development right where the proposal is to extend the range of food to be offered while maintaining the pub itself. Beyond that, planning permission will be required before a pub can be demolished or face a change of use. That puts powers into the hands of local people and local planning authorities—here, I remind the House of my vice-presidency of the Local Government Association—and that has to be beneficial.

I pay tribute to all those who have campaigned on this issue, including the Campaign for Real Ale and the British Beer and Pub Association, and to those from all parties—including my colleague in the other place, Greg Mulholland—who have spoken and campaigned in support of it. I am very pleased to commend the Commons amendment.

My Lords, as this is my first contribution on these matters, I refer Members to my declaration of interests in the register. I declare that I am an elected councillor in the London Borough of Lewisham, a vice-president of the Local Government Association and the vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group.

In respect of Motion A, I am disappointed that the other place did not accept the amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Stunell, although I accept the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, that the other House did not divide on the issue. I hope that the noble Lord, with his colleagues in the department, will keep this matter under review so that, if it turns out that the provision needs to be strengthened, we can return to it at a later date. The noble Lord, Lord Stunell, made a very important point about the primacy of the NPPF.

In respect of Motion B, I am delighted that the Government have listened to the campaign both inside and outside Parliament. I pay tribute to two Members of the other place—Charlotte Leslie, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bristol North West, and Greg Mulholland, the Liberal Democrat Member for Leeds North West—for their campaigning over a number of years to bring about this change.

I also thank all the Members of your Lordships’ House who supported me in the debate and in the Division Lobbies. I particularly want to thank those Conservative Members who voted with me and those who kindly abstained, as that played an important part in getting a large majority when I tested the opinion of the House. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, for his generous support in the debate, as well as others, such as the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington, the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, and the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York. I am also grateful for the support that I received from the noble Lords, Lord Shipley and Lord Scriven, and others.

The amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, corrects a loophole that was of great harm to successful pubs, and it protects and helps them. In the previous debate I was very clear that the intention behind what I proposed was never to keep open a pub that was not a successful business but to support successful businesses.

I like pubs and I like a pint. Like the noble Lord, Lord Framlingham, I probably should have bought a few shares in the odd pub or brewery; I have certainly spent enough money on beer over the years.

I also pay tribute to the fantastic work done by Tim Page, the chief executive of CAMRA, Amy O’Callaghan, its senior campaigns officer, and all the members of CAMRA in branches across the country who emailed and phoned us and Members of the other place.

This amendment is important, and I am grateful to the Government and the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, for listening. It is an example of the House of Lords doing its job well. By winning the argument on the original amendment, we created the conditions for the Government to think again and we have a great solution today that I am delighted to support.

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who participated in this debate on Motions A and B; I will not detain the House long. I genuinely thank all noble Lords who participated in the discussion on this important piece of legislation. I also thank my right honourable friend in the other place, Sajid Javid, and my honourable friend Gavin Barwell, the Minister for Housing, who have been very supportive and helpful.

Turning first to Motion A, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Stunell, for his generosity of spirit. I agree that there is a difference between us on the way that this is to be interpreted. I believe that the National Planning Policy Framework provides the necessary security, but I am most grateful for his generous words and the very fair summary that he gave.

Turning to Motion B, I first raise a metaphorical glass to my noble friend Lord Hodgson on his birthday. Perhaps there will be an opportunity for people to exhibit support for this new position after the debate. I thank him for what he said about our having harnessed the support of both CAMRA and the British Beer & Pub Association, as well as this House. I also thank my noble friend Lord Framlingham for his extremely kind words and the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, for his support of this amendment. He has been a pleasure to work with throughout this legislation—always fair and always with good advice.

I join the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, in thanking Charlotte Leslie and Greg Mulholland in the other place for their help, and I thank the noble Lord for what he has done in this legislation and what he does for pubs on a continuing basis; it has not gone unnoticed and has certainly helped the sector greatly. I thank all noble Lords very genuinely, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, said, for having demonstrated the House of Lords at its best in looking at and amending this legislation, and in moving forward very sensibly, not least in respect of matters raised by my noble friend Lady Cumberlege. On that note, I commend Motion A.

Motion A agreed.

Motion B

Moved by

That this House do not insist on its Amendment 22 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 22A and 22B in lieu.

Commons Amendments in lieu

22A: Page 11, line 40, at end insert—

“Permitted development rights relating to drinking establishments

(1) As soon as reasonably practicable after the coming into force of this section, the Secretary of State must make a development order under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which—

(a) removes any planning permission which is granted by a development order for development consisting of a change in the use of any building or land in England from a use within Class A4 to a use of a kind specified in the order (subject to paragraph (c)),

(b) removes any planning permission which is granted by a development order for a building operation consisting of the demolition of a building in England which is used, or was last used, for a purpose within Class A4 or for a purpose including use within that class, and

(c) grants planning permission for development consisting of a change in the use of a building in England and any land within its curtilage from a use within Class A4 to a mixed use consisting of a use within that Class and a use within Class A3.

(2) Subsection (1) does not require the development order to remove planning permission for development which has been carried out before the coming into force of the order.

(3) Subsection (1) does not prevent—

(a) the inclusion of transitional, transitory or saving provision in the development order, or

(b) the subsequent exercise of the Secretary of State’s powers by development order to grant, remove or otherwise make provision about planning permission for the development of buildings or land used, or last used, for a purpose within Class A4 or for a purpose including use within that class.

(4) A reference in this section to Class A3 or Class A4 is to the class of use of that name listed in the Schedule to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (SI 1987/764).

(5) Expressions used in this section that are defined in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 have the same meaning as in that Act.”

22B: Page 32, line 20, at end insert—

“( ) section (Permitted development rights relating to drinking establishments);”

My Lords, I omitted to thank my noble friend and co-pilot, who has more air miles than most, for his support on this. I beg to move.

Motion B agreed.