Examination of Witnesses(Questions 517-519)
MR NICK DAVIES, MR VINCENT GOODSTADT, MR DAVID LOCK AND MR GIDEON AMOS
WEDNESDAY 24 APRIL 2002
517. Can I welcome you to the second session this morning on the Planning Green Paper. Could I ask you to identify yourselves for the record, please?
(Mr Goodstadt) I am Vincent Goodstadt, the Senior Vice-President of the Royal Town Planning Institute.
(Mr Davies) I am Nick Davies, the Immediate Past President of the Royal Town Planning Institute.
(Mr Lock) I am David Lock, Chairman of the Town & Country Planning Association. It may assist the Committee to know, Chairman, that I am a small businessman, I employ 65 people, and I was the Chief Planning Adviser in the Department from 1994-97 and one of your Members was a minister at the time.
(Mr Amos) I am Gideon Amos, the Director of the Town & Country Planning Association.
518. Thank you very much. Apart from that statement, do any of you want to make further statements before we start the questions?
(Mr Goodstadt) I welcome the opportunity first of all to say that the context in which we have made representations to the Government on its Green Paper is in the context that the 15,000 members of the institute that work within England are obviously the key people who will be involved in delivering any system that emerges and, therefore, are quite critical in terms of their experience in delivering the current system. There also is a commitment to improve the system and support the radical change the Government is seeking to introduce, not that we are happy with all the aspects of it but there is a need for a radical review of the planning system if it is to be effective. In particular the views we raise are about the need to ensure that the various parts fit together, they are coherent and clear and maybe in questioning we can unravel some of those.
(Mr Lock) May I say, to help the Committee, that the Royal Town Planning Institute is the professional body, and the Town & Country Planning Association is a voluntary body, a non-governmental organisation.
Chairman: I think we appreciate that. If you agree with each other please keep quiet but if you disagree come forward.
519. Perhaps I can ask firstly the Town & Country Planning Association, you do say in your evidence that the abolition of the present statutory system for local planning will fatally undermine the plan led system and you suggest alternatives. How confident are you that your alternatives will work?
(Mr Lock) It is one of the differences between the two parties. The matter of the Local Development Frameworks we feel is a reform for which parliamentary time should not be used. The way we see it is the country has spent ten years or more now investing in the statutory development plan system that we have now, the system of local plans. It has been terribly slow, very expensive and unsatisfactory in many ways but we have been through that great loop and the Committee should know that amendments, revisions, updating of local plans are happening now very quickly. In other words, many years of investment are now yielding results. The key point, in response to your question, is that Parliament inserted section 54(a) into the Act against the wishes of the minister of the day to my recollection, Mr George Young, and asserted the primacy of the development plan. The first consideration is the development plan and then other material considerations can be taken into account. Parliament therefore instituted what we call the plan led system. The proposed Local Development Framework arrangements would lead to the abolition of that plan led system and there is no proposed replacement for the primacy of the statutory plan which Parliament inserted in the Act. That is a long sentence but it is a very profound point. I do not think the minister realised this was the consequence of his proposals but that is the observation we make upon them. We lose the statutory development plan, therefore Parliament's desire that it should be the first consideration is also lost.