Examination of Witnesses (Questions 620-639)|
THOROTON, QC AND
TUESDAY 12 FEBRUARY 2002
Sir Paul Beresford
620. There are two ways of looking at that.
You can either look at it from a restrictive point of view or
you can look at it from a more positive angle and do something
about the transport. I am talking about in general.
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) That is obviously right.
You can conclude, let us improve the transport infrastructure
to a particular place for economic activity to take place so you
can develop in a particular way. It would not necessarily involve
tall buildings; it would involve any development that would bring
jobs and economic activity. You are right.
621. I will not ask you about individual applications,
but in general would you like to see more Section 106 contributions
going towards increasing transport capacity?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Where appropriate, yes,
I would, particularly if the particular developmenttall
building or nothas a real impact on transport infrastructure.
However, each (I am sorry to say it again) individual case must
be looked at on its merits.
622. Without going into specific things, do
you not find it a bit odd that Canary Wharf put up £90 million
for the Jubilee Line (not much, really, considering the cost of
that line) yet the proposals for the Heron are not putting up
any money at all?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) I do not want to go there,
if you do not mind, because it is impossible to answer that question
without expressing a view on what offers have been made by the
623. Let us put it another way, my Lord. If
an application for a tall building was made, would you expect,
routinely, that the contribution from that tall building should
be towards improving the transport infrastructure?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Depending on what pressures
it put on the transport infrastructure.
624. In an area where there is already considerable
pressure on the transport infrastructure, would you expect a Section
106 to make a considerable contribution to the transport system,
if the effect of the planning application was to bring in large
numbers of people? I hope that is clear.
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) That is very clear, but
that is a question designed to put the facts in relation to the
Heron Tower to me without saying so.
625. No. With the greatest respect, this is
actually a point of principle. If there is to be an expansion,
say around the City of London in all directions, of buildings
that will bring in large numbers of extra people (and I am not
talking about 20 extra people) to an area where the infrastructure
is already not only creaking but close to collapse, would you
then expect as part of that application that there should be a
demand for funds for the transport infrastructure?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) The appropriate demand
made by the local authority should be that which is necessary
in relation to the transport infrastructure and appropriate. I
am sorry to give such a general answer, but I am trying to avoid
expressing a view.
626. I understand why you are trying to avoid
that, and it would help if we could give you a different example
to the Heron.
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) The extent to which I
am trying to go is to say that I can quite envisage circumstances
where contributions to the transport infrastructure would be entirely
appropriate as far as the developer is concerned.
627. Am I right, totally hypothetically, that
if you are considering a particular application you can demand
extra 106 as part of the Secretary of State's approval of the
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) The Secretary of State
is entitled to say "I will not approve this because there
is an insufficient 106 contribution."
Mrs Dunwoody: So the answer is yes.
628. Whilst we are still on this issue of planning
gain and 106s, based on transport infrastructure, what about affordable
housing, because we have been given, by some of our expert witnesses,
the reason that a number of firms may pull out of the City of
London or central London is the lack of affordable housing. How
do you weigh those togethertransport and housing?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) It should be a judgment
made by the relevant local authority as to what its priorities
629. Should you not be giving them some guidance?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) What is the priority for
the City of London? What is the priority for Tower Hamlets? What
is the priority for Liverpool? They will differ. It is not, I
think, for central Government to say the priority everywhere is
affordable housing or the priority everywhere is transport. Manifestly,
that is not right. The problem of an absence of affordable housing
in London and the South East and other parts of the country as
well are not reflected in yet other parts of the country. There
has to be an element, and a very significant element, of local
choice in relation to what priorities are.
630. Does there not have to be some government
interference in this area? The City of London pretty clearly told
us they wanted the office jobs and they wanted the affordable
housing in Tower Hamlets. Is it not legitimate for Tower Hamlets
to say they want the office jobs and perhaps not have the affordable
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Yes, and there would most
certainly be scope for a national view in relation to that, but
one would hope that at stage one there would be discussion between
the City and the boroughs that surround it, as to what the appropriate
631. Are you satisfied that those discussions
have taken place?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Not entirely, no.
632. What is the status of the Mayor's Interim
Strategic Guidance on tall buildings?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) It is a document that
has been published on behalf of the Mayor, it has not yet been
consulted upon, therefore it is not a final document.
633. Does it have any status?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) I think it is a document
that could be referred to in planning applications. It would be
something that, in considering the position, central Government
would pay some regard to, but until it is a document that has
been consulted upon its weight is obviously much less than it
would otherwise be.
634. The Mayor told us, when he gave evidence
here, that people did not agree with tall buildings and they would
deal with that by the way they vote at the next Mayoral election.
Do you look forward to a Mayoral election fought on tall buildings?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) I do not know whether
or not the next Mayoral election will be fought on tall buildings.
That is really up to the Mayor, as to whether he makes it a big
issue. Our position in relation to it is pretty clear: I think,
ultimately, it is a matter for seeing is there is a case for the
635. Will the Mayor's London Plan be able to
override the policy on tall buildings of Westminster, Kensington
& Chelsea and Islington?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) The London Boroughs' Unitary
Development Plans should be consistent with the Mayor's Spatial
Strategy, in relation to his policy. That should include his policy
on tall buildings. We have not yet got to a point where
636. Consistent with?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Consistent with, yes1.
637. Except if they are prepared before his
plan came along.
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Indeed. Once his spatial
strategy is adopted, pursuant to all the procedures that have
got to be gone through, thereafter the boroughs' plans should
become consistent with it.
638. So if they say "We don't want tall
buildings" and he says "You do want tall buildings"
how do the boroughs make their plans consistent?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) They should, in effect,
make changes to their plans which reflect the regional strategy
of the Mayor in his spatial strategy.
639. So his plans will override theirs?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Normally that is correct,
yes. That is the hierarchy of the plan.
1 1 Section 344 of the Greater London Act 1999, amended
the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, to require that Unitary
Development Plans in London should be in general conformity with
the Mayor's Spatial Development Strategy (SDS). A more detailed
explanation of the relationship between the SDS and London Unitary
Development Plans is set out in Section 5 of Government Office
for London Circular 1/2000-Strategic Planning in London. Back