Supplementary memorandum by Department
for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (NT 30(c))
1. DTLR submitted a memorandum to the Select
Committee on 18 March 2002. This referred to the impending announcement
of the outcome of Stage 1 of the Quinquennial Review of English
Partnerships (EP). The review findings were expected to have relevance
to the concerns raised by New Towns, their MPs and the Select
2. Originally respondents to the Sub-Committee
were asked to comment on several specific points and we are now
able to provide additional information relating to two of these:
the consequences of English Partnerships' control
of the land supply and its role in the planning system; and
the effect of the transfer of assets and liabilities
to local authorities.
3. As is normal for a Quinquennial Review
the first stage of the EP Review examined the justification for
the organisation and its functions on policy grounds. DTLR considered
whether there was a continuing need for EPs' functions, and whether
EP was the best placed body to exercise them.
4. Ministers announced the outcome of the
first stage to Parliament on 20 March (copy of the PQ Answer attached
at annex A). It was confirmed that the organisation will focus
on brownfield regeneration, and on managing a national portfolio
of strategic sites and demonstration projects. In order to achieve
this EP will transfer their non-strategic Commission for New Towns
landholdings to the most appropriate bodies, for example Local
Authorities. EP will also progressively relinquish the use of
their CNT planning powers.
5. The Department is now moving forward
into second stage of the Reviewthis will consider the financial,
management and organisational implications of stage one matters
in detail. While DTLR will take the lead in the second stage of
the review, it will do so in close consultation with EP, and also
local authorities and others with an interest in the outcome.
6. The transfer of EP's non-strategic CNT
assets to the most appropriate body, by a staged process may address
concerns about the current control of land in New Towns. While
it cannot be assumed that the land transfers will necessarily
be to Local Authorities, once the transfer to the appropriate
body is completed EP should no longer be perceived as the dominant
player in land supply in New Towns. A key issue in stage two will
be the definition of "strategic sites" and the identification
of the sites which will be included in EP's national portfolio.
DTLR will seek to define this more rigorously as part of Stage
7. The Department will be examining the
options for transfer of CNT assets and liabilities. Significant
issues will include the likely impact of such transfers on public
finances and, in the case of transfers to Local Authorities, the
implications of the new local government finance regime.
8. EPs interests in New Towns are both land
and non-land, for example clawback, covenants, rent and sub-soil
ownership. Negotiations will take place with Local Authorities,
and the aim will be that all of these will be covered in any transfer
arrangements. Depending on the mix of land and non-land holdings
in any area Local Authorities cannot assume they will receive
a financial "windfall" from such transfers.
9. The Government has also accepted the
review's recommendation that EP should progressively relinquish
the use of its planning powers under the New Towns Act 1981 in
the former New Town areas. This means that EP would instead seek
consent from the local planning authority under the Town and Country
Planning Act 1990. EP may also be expected to contribute towards
the infrastructure and services that the relevant planning authority
believes to be necessary to facilitate the proposed development.
This would be done through negotiating an agreement with the relevant
local planning authority in the context of granting a planning
consent. To a large extent this would replicate the provision
of such facilities that EP would have provided in any case under
the existing planning regime.
10. EP have 7(1) planning consents for some
of the land they hold, but this would fall on transfer. The impact
of this move will vary, and the procedures that follow will depend
on ownership of the land. For example, in cases where local authorities
take possession of, and wish to develop the land, the procedures
to follow are contained in the Town and Country Planning General
Regulations 1992. The general principle underlying these Regulations
is that local authorities must make planning applications in the
same way as any other person and must follow the same procedures
as would apply to applications to others.
11. EP will retain its URA Compulsory Purchase
Order powers, but this will have no direct impact on New Towns.
(The CNT does not possess CPO powers.)