Examination of Witness (Questions 520-539)|
MP AND MR
WEDNESDAY 14 NOVEMBER 2001
520. You said what you want PPG17 to achieve,
are there any specific things in PPG as it stands now that you
would like to change?
(Mr Caborn) There are a number which we have drafted,
Mr Mackenzie can go through some of those in detail. What we have
been saying, first of all, is to take the division out between
open spaces and sport facilities. I think an artificial barrier
has been driven in for some reason, which I cannot quite understand.
I think the decision available to the local authority which is
inside the democratic process which underpins the whole of the
planning regime in this country, I think that is absolutely wrong.
What we have a responsibility to do as government is to try to
guide through various PPGs what the government policy is and how
we want that delivered but the actual delivery of that will be
at a local level. When one looks back, it is about 10 years since
there has been a revision of the PPG17, clearly the language was
weak, it was not proactive enough and it was not addressing the
issues we are facing today.
521. Some people said that the language was
stronger than the existing one.
(Mr Caborn) It might have been on that draft. What
we what we are trying to re-draft is a much more proactive document,
one that is going to deliver. Against the background of the White
Paper on the Urban Task Force, and then the Rogers Report, the
urban renaissance that is what we are trying to deliver, the concept
within that, whether it be sport or open spaces. I am hoping now
that the PPG17, the revised one, its language will be much more
proactive in those areas. I am pretty convinced it will be.
522. Mr Mackenzie, do you have a long shopping
(Mr Mackenzie) It is fairly long.
523. If you could leave us a written copy?
(Mr Mackenzie) We did not have it as formal as that.
They are the same sort of issues as earlier.
524. Is it like my shopping list?
(Mr Mackenzie) I have not seen your shopping list.
I would think it has many of the same issues that the Committee
has hit upon. Definitions needs to be clearer. There is some very
strong language in the text in relation to sport, which was referred
to before, by the previous evidence sessions, which we as the
drafters know where it is buried but obviously it is hard for
those who it is meant to guide to understand.
525. It sounds a bit vague, it is like get something
for Sunday lunch. It is not very specific.
(Mr Mackenzie) We have specific ideas which we obviously
have to discuss with our colleagues in detail to get the wider
picture on planning. There is a limit, as the minister has said,
to what the planning system can deliver and a balance has to be
struck as to where we put the solutions in the planning guidance
revised draft of PPG17, where it is best put and best practice
guidance and where it is left to individual discussions by advisers
such as Sport England with the relevant local authorities.
526. Could I come on to the specifics of your
department's interests and how they may be reflected in PPG17.
In particular we talked earlier with Lord Falconer about the need
to try and link up planning policy and managing issues with the
wider policies of local authorities, do you think specifically
that the requirement for local authorities to produce local cultural
strategies should be referred to you as a requirement?
(Mr Caborn) In terms of the local cultural strategies
they were given a very broad remit and I think the cultural strategies
were basically there to get an audit of what we have. It is really
incredible when you think about it, in terms of the cultural industry
and the whole evolvement of cultural policies it was not based
upon what people knew were there at that time, therefore it was
about an audit. In my Department we discussed it with the chairs
of those cultural consortiums, about how we would move forward.
In specific terms of the sports facilities and the open spaces
I think we would want to make sure that the local authorities
do their needs assessment and that is their responsibility in
PPG17. This is one of the key areas, it has to be pushing very
hard at the local authorities to do their needs assessment for
open spaces, for playing fields and for sporting facilities. Once
we have the assessment then we can speak to them in a much more
effective way than has been the way in the past. I do not think
it bears down necessarily on what is required in PPG17. I would
not necessarily refer to that.
527. PPG17 should have a requirement to produce
the strategy for open space and sports facilities as far as you
(Mr Caborn) I think it has to guide a local authority
with planning authority at the end of the day to be able to deliver
what the government wants in terms of sports and open spaces strategy,
that is what it is there to do.
528. That should be specifically in the guidance?
(Mr Caborn) In terms of developing a needs assessment.
529. Surely something like a bandstand, is it
not much nicer to have a bandstand in the park with a band playing
on it or not?
(Mr Caborn) I would not disagree with that.
530. If you are going to take some notice of
the cultural strategy, the availability of local bands to perform
in public spaces.
(Mr Caborn) I do not think you can determine that
by planning guidance I think that is more about policy. In the
terms of playing on a bandstand I do not think that is planning
guidance, it is about the facilities that are there.
531. There is no point in putting the facilities
there unless they are going to be used. You have to have some
match between a cultural strategy and what is available. One or
two people have talked about open air theatres, it is very nice
to have an open air theatre in a park but unless somebody is going
to use it or it is not going to be raining it is a bit of a waste
(Mr Caborn) I think that is true and I think the government
can be criticised for not making those linkages across. Let us
be clear what the people in the PPGs are there for, the reason
they are there is to guide the planning. They cannot resolve all
of the problems by planning guidance. You can also have the supporting
documentation to that, but then it has to link, as I said, to
what we are doing in terms of the investment strategy as well.
It is about discussing it with people like Sport England and what
they are trying to deliver as far as the broader strategy of sport
is concerned, of which planning is part of that, it is not the
sole driver of it.
532. Can I take you now to the New Opportunities
Fund. When we spoke to the DCMS officials they were not totally
forthcoming on this subject and in particular expenditure by the
New Opportunities Fund on green space, in particular the Transforming
Communities Initiative. I have the figures correct, think we are
talking about £50 million over three years. Compared with
all of the other funding for sport there is very, very little
money there available for green spaces, as we understand it. Have
you a view on that and will you be representing your view to the
New Opportunities Fund?
(Mr Caborn) We will get the two things right, the
Green Space Initiative is one and the Transforming of the Communities
Initiative is the other one. The Transforming of the Community
Initiative is a fund of about £159 million. As far as the
green space is concerned, as I understand it, there was some concern
533. £159 million is going to be spent
on green spaces.
(Mr Caborn) No, the breakdown of that is £49.5
million for the projects of Quality of Life for Local Community,
including the promotion of healthier lifestyles by improving the
appearance of the local environment in urban and rural areas.
£49.5 million for projects for community waste and recycling.
£50 million for projects to assist in regeneration and £10
million for community rehabilitation of drug users, and that is
in Scotland. That is the £159 million which I just referred
to on transforming communities. As far as the Green Space Initiative
is concerned another £125 million.
534. You are satisfied that that is enough.
In a sense, the figures we have are the figures the analysis provided
for me, we are only left with very, very little, something like
(Mr Caborn) On the green spaces.
536. Could we have a green spaces figure for
the next year?
(Mr Caborn) 125 million over
(Mr Mackenzie) The way the New Opportunities Fund
operates is that it has
537. We are talking about the Transforming Communities
Initiative, the figure should have been £125 million but
the problem there, of which you are quite well aware, is that
very little of that was actually spent.
(Mr Mackenzie) No. The New Opportunities Fund the
way it operates there is a long lead-in time which is required
by the legislation and the policy to widely consult on the best
use of the funds. That consultation includes debates in both chambers
of the House and enables the New Opportunities Fund to decide
on the basis of wide consultation the best allocation of its funds.
£50 million for green spaces within transforming communities
you can argue whether that is big enough or not.
538. That is what is precisely being offered,
is it your view that that is big enough?
(Mr Mackenzie) My view is that it is a sizeable start.
£50 million compared to what has gone before is a significant
539. But compared to what is spent on sport,
where there are other specialist funds, is that enough?
(Mr Caborn) We have three quarters of a billion pounds
just going into PE and education, it is not just all about the
sports facilities, it is the infrastructure through the local
education authorities, obviously the spin-off into that is the
communities as well. Then we have the 120 odd million which is
being spent by Sport England. As I said a little earlier to the
Committee this had been an area massively under invested in.