Planning Green Paper (Supplementary) [4]

Session date: 
March 27, 2002
Question By: 
Tony Arbour
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

That answer will come as an enormous disappointment to residents of Greater London. You will know that one of the principal objections to the current planning system is that the only person who can appeal against a decision they don't like is the applicant. Local communities might rise up in great numbers and oppose what has been said but they have no right of appeal. For you to say to then, as you have just done, that you think that this will improve local rights is really to buck the question. What you ought to have done, to show that you really do support the democratic input into the planning process, would have been for you in your response to have read the arguments in the green paper. They are in fact quite extensively set out, on third party rights of appeal and you should have used your influence to say that that ought to be done.

I have to say that it goes very badly against what you said in your manifesto. You said, "As an Independent Mayor I will introduce the most open accessible and inclusive style of government ever seen in the UK." As far as planning is concerned, you haven't done it with your own planning procedures and we have questioned you on that many times. But so far as this aspect of the planning system is concerned, when you have had a chance to act on behalf of Londoners to make the system more open you have failed to do so. Can I ask you therefore to reconsider your response on third party appeals in the light of what you said when you were elected?

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Planning Green Paper (Supplementary) [4]

Answer for Planning Green Paper (Supplementary) [4]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I have a general feeling that the planning system is not effective. The problem is we get into great big appeals with lots of lawyers and long drawn out vital decisions for London's development take an inordinately long time. The classic example, and I accept this is the most extreme example, is that of Terminal 5, which was a charade. The Government of the day was determined that Terminal 5 was going ahead and the whole planning appeal was just window dressing. I think for small local issues the third party appeal doesn't come in to it usually. Where you have a major development and it's central to, or thought to be central to, London's well being, that is a political decision. I'd prefer to have a situation where more of these are dealt with by the Mayor. If people don't like the Mayor's decision they will get a new Mayor. I am sure my planning decisions will be a major issue at that next Mayoral Election and I think that that is right. That will do more to empower Londoners about the planning process than anything before. The one area where I think that third party rights are important is where a Council grants itself planning permission. That is the exception. The only instance I can think of where that has been a factor has been the Barking Lido, where I did direct refusal. That then went to appeal and everybody got their say. That is the one instance. I think as a general rule I would be inclined, where a Council has given itself planning permission and there is massive objection, to direct refusal so that a planning inquiry could take place.

Tony Arbour: Thank you for that. It's a pity you didn't say that in your response on the green paper.

The Mayor: I'm happy to add it as an addendum and send it off.