Planning Applications

Mr. Bill Michie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement about his policy on calling in planning applications under section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. [87392]

Mr. Caborn: My right hon. Friend's general approach, like that of previous Secretaries of State, is not to interfere with the jurisdiction of local planning authorities unless it is necessary to do so. Parliament has entrusted them with responsibility for day-to-day planning control in their areas. It is right that, in general, they should be free to carry out their duties responsibly, with the minimum of interference.

There will be occasions, however, when my right hon. Friend may consider it necessary to call in the planning application to determine himself, instead of leaving the decision to the local planning authority.

His policy is to be very selective about calling in planning applications. He will, in general, only take this step if planning issues of more than local importance are involved. Such cases may include, for example, those which, in his opinion:

may conflict with national policies on important matters;

could have significant effects beyond their immediate locality;

give rise to substantial regional or national controversy;

raise significant architectural and urban design issues; or

may involve the interests of national security or of foreign Governments

However, each case will continue to be considered on its individual merits.