Friday, 13 June 2014
Announcing it twice. Announcing it twice.
I see that Eric Pickles (who perhaps we ought now to refer to as ‘Little Sir Echo’) was sounding off earlier this week about his proposed repeal of section 25 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1973 (as amended), which provides that for the purposes of what is now section 55(1) of the 1990 Act, the use as temporary sleeping accommodation of any residential premises in Greater London involves a material change of use of the premises and of each part of them that is used for that purpose. Oh, by the way, that particularly pernicious piece of legislation (if you happen to share Uncle Eric’s view) was passed by a Conservative Government, although I suppose today’s Tories would regard the then prime minister, Ted Heath, as a dangerous crypto-socialist.
I wrote about this proposal when it was first announced more than four months ago (see Short-term lets in Greater London, 25 February 2014). I picked up on it from a story in the Evening Standard on 24 February, which reported that Kris Hopkins, who was then a recently appointed junior minister in De-CLoG, had said that ministers intended to scrap this provision, so as to allow short-term lets in Greater London (for example “for a few days while the owners go on holiday”). The demand for short-term accommodation during the 2012 Olympics was cited as the sort of thing that ministers think ought to be catered for.
Uncle Eric’s announcement this week made me think that the details of this proposal had now been published. But not so. We shall have to await the introduction of amendments to the Deregulation Bill, currently wending its weary way through parliament (having been carried over from the last session). I have no doubt that the amending legislation when it emerges will turn out to be hedged about with all sorts of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ to prevent the sort of free-for-all that I warned against in my February commentary. So I am re-assured that Uncle Eric, despite his completely contrary intentions (if his bullish speeches are to be believed), will be making yet more work for the planning lawyers.
That is what I like about ‘reforms’ of the planning system. They just make planning law even more complicated. In the words of an old Flanders and Swann song – “Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do.”
© MARTIN H GOODALL