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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Ludlow of 16 September 2009, Official Report, column 2288W, on the Valuation Office Agency: publications, whether an advertising station which is not let out, not reserved and not displaying any image is eligible for empty property rate relief if its rateable value is under the empty property rate relief threshold. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough of 6 July 2009, Official Report, column 547W, on diplomatic missions, if he will allow local authorities to withdraw services from diplomatic missions which do not pay the national non-domestic rates billed to them. 
Barbara Follett: Local authorities are under statutory obligations to provide certain services in their areas and cannot therefore withdraw such services where a diplomatic mission fails to pay the element of its business rates bill for which it is responsible.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much net revenue has been raised from the new regime of empty property business rates in each year since their introduction. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he plans to introduce anti-avoidance measures following the lowering of the threshold on empty property business rates in April 2010. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities have responded to his Department's information-gathering exercise on empty property business rates. 
Barbara Follett: All 354 billing authorities in existence as of 31 March 2009 provided data on (a) the numbers of empty properties as of 31 March 2009 and (b) of those, the number of empty properties with a rateable value of less than £15,000. The data were provided on the billing authority's annual NNDR3 return.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what (a) individuals and (b) organisations have responded to his Department's consultation on modernising empty property relief. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether (a) yacht clubs and (b) fishing companies located within the curtilages of ports are liable to pay business rates on a retrospective basis following the Valuation Office Agency's review of port valuations. 
Barbara Follett: The Government do not hold information on the identity of ratepayers liable for business rates. A liable party for business rates will have paramount control of a property. Whether a yacht club or a fishing company has paramount control of a property within the curtilage of a port will depend on the facts of each case. If there is paramount control then it would warrant a separate assessment and if they were not previously assessed then they would have been affected by the review.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many assessments of individual hereditaments there have been by the Valuation Office Agency to date in relation to the new regime of business rates on ports; and how many of these have subsequently been corrected or subjected to an appeal. 
Barbara Follett: The assessment of separate occupations is not new and was not introduced by the Valuation Office Agency's review of ports. Over 1,600 properties within the 45 ports in England were separately assessed immediately prior to the completion of the review of each port. As at 8 July 2009 the number of properties within ports that are separately assessed with an effective date of 1 April 2005 is 2,207, a net increase of around 600 compared to the position immediately prior to the review of each port.
As at 9 September, the Valuation Office Agency has applied fast track arrangements to 703 appeals made by port businesses, 355 of which relate to new business rating assessments with an effective date of 1 April 2005.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable is for the 2010 business rates revaluation; and when he expects bills reflecting the revaluation to be issued to those liable for business rates. 
Barbara Follett: The 2010 rating list will come into force on 1 April 2010. Regulations implementing the 2010 transitional arrangements will be made before the end of December 2009 and the small business non-domestic multiplier and the national non-domestic multiplier will be confirmed in the new year after Parliament approves the Local Government Finance Report. The issuing of rates bills is a matter for Billing Authorities, but we expect that rate bills for 2010-11 will be issued by Billing Authorities during March 2010.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 1 June 2009, Official Report, column 203W, on official hospitality, if he will place in the Library a copy of each page of his Department's staff handbook relating to guidance on the declaration of gifts, hospitality and financial interests. 
Barbara Follett: A copy of the pages of the Department's staff handbook relating to guidance on the declaration of gifts, hospitality and financial interests will be placed in the House of Commons Library.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what (a) research and (b) reports have been commissioned from Oxford Economic Forecasting by his Department and its agencies in the last 36 months. 
The database provides information on projects commissioned by Communities and Local Government and predecessor departments going back to 30 November 2001. This includes the subject, contractor and cost of each research commission.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance his Department issues to (a) councillors and (b) local planning authorities on consideration to be given to issues of (i) predisposition and (ii) predetermination in determining the outcome of planning applications. 
The Local Government Act 2000 introduced a requirement for each local authority to adopt a code of conduct for councillors, based on the Model Code of Conduct set by the Government and endorsed by Parliament. All councillors have to give a written undertaking to observe the code, or cease to be a member of the authority. The current Model Code, introduced in 2007, sets new rules on personal and prejudicial interests. The Code may be viewed at:
The Standards Board for England, the strategic regulator for local authority standards committees and the body which works with councillors and conduct regime practitioners, issues guidance on the code of conduct. The Standards Board has also issued a paper on predisposition, predetermination and bias.
The Department has not issued any guidance for local authority employees. Local authority employees' behaviour regarding the consideration of planning applications would be determined by their terms and conditions of employment. In addition, the employing authority may have a code of conduct for employees addressing this issue. The Local Government Association has issued guidance in "Probity in Planning: The Role of Councillors and Officers - Revised Guidance Note on Good Planning Practice for Councillors and Officers Dealing With Planning Matters". This can be viewed at:
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what types of planning application were not considered by local planning authorities, prior to the establishment of the Infrastructure Planning Commission. 
Mr. Ian Austin: Planning applications under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 are made to the relevant local planning authority. In London, the Mayor has powers to take certain planning decisions. The Secretary of State deals with appeals and projects called in for determination.
Nationally significant infrastructure projects will in future be considered by the Infrastructure Planning Commission which will in general replace consents granted by Ministers under a range of different Acts such as the Highways Act 1980, Electricity Act 1989 and Transport and Works Act 1992.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 17 October 2007, Official Report, column 1339W, on planning: agriculture, what changes there have been to planning policy on the protection of the best and most versatile agricultural land since October 2007; and whether the new Planning Policy Statement 4 will include further changes to the regime. 
Mr. Ian Austin:
The have been no changes to planning policy on the protection of best and most versatile (BMV) agricultural land since October 2007. The Government's planning policy on BMV agricultural
land is set out in Planning Policy Statement 7 (PPS7): "Sustainable Development in Rural Areas" published in August 2004.
Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what discretion local authorities have in determining the fees payable by applicants seeking to extend existing planning consents for up to three years from 1 October 2009; 
(3) what recent assessment he has made of the merits of setting at £500 the fee charged by local authorities applying for an extension to existing planning permissions for up to three years from 1 October 2009. 
Mr. Ian Austin: Fees are currently set through The Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications and Deemed Applications) Regulations 1989 as amended by The Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications and Deemed Applications) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2008. Local authorities are not able to apply discretion to the regulations. Until the fees regulations are further amended later this year, the level of fee payable for an application to extend the time limits for implementation of an existing planning permission is as it would be for a new application for the same development. When the fees regulations are amended, a reduced fee level will be payable. Proposed fee levels, which are currently under consideration, are for £500 for a major development, £50 for a householder application and £170 for any other application. The fee levels will be subject to parliamentary debates in both Houses before coming into force.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) whether section 51 of Planning Policy Statement 3 on parking overrides the maximum parking standards for residential development contained in the 2001 edition of Planning Policy Guidance 13 on Transport; 
(4) whether his Department has issued any recent guidance to local planning authorities on the grant of planning permission for the construction of new garages for purposes other than the storage of vehicles; 
The original Planning Policy Guidance Note 3: Housing (2000) contained a reference to minimum parking for residential units of 1.5 spaces per unit. This policy was removed in PPS 3 (2006). PPG 13 makes it clear that there should be no minimum parking standards for development, other than for disabled people. The maximum car parking standards in PPG 13 remain unchanged since 2001. The requirement for maximum standards continues in the current draft Planning Policy Statement 4:Planning for Prosperous Economies.
A specific regulatory impact assessment was not prepared for the 2001 edition of PPG 13. The sustainable site location policies set out in PPG 13 are repeated in other Planning Policy Statements (including 1, 3 and draft PPS 4) which do have impact assessments. The draft PPS 4 consultation impact assessment considers non-residential parking policy issues. The impact assessment is part of the consultation document available on the Communities and Local Government website:
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what planning applications the Planning Inspectorate has allowed at appeal in the last 12 months where a condition of granting the application included a requirement that the garage accommodation which formed part of the application be kept available for the parking of vehicles at all times. 
Mr. Ian Austin: Data in relation to conditions imposed as a result of planning appeals that have been allowed are not held centrally by the Planning Inspectorate and could be recovered only at disproportionate cost.
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