Discussion began around development orders, Lord True (Conservative), proposed Amendment 1, covering the right to comment on extensions, saying: ‘I think the Government are wrong to want to take away a neighbour's right to comment on an extension that could be 50%, or technically in some cases a little more of a small neighbouring garden in a terrace. Back gardens are an important reinforcement of mutual value and of the character of an area. My amendment... states that if a local authority thinks that extending permitted development in gardens to this extent is not appropriate for its area, it may opt out.’
He continued: ‘This proposal takes away a neighbour's right to have a say on a big and potentially overbearing extension shoved up outside their back door. What is more, it removes that vital process of moderation and conciliation that the local planning system provides in these matters.’
Lord Tope (Liberal Democrat) supported the amendment, saying: ‘The rights being taken away are the rights of the neighbours to be able to appeal for arbitration from a local planning authority, and to ask the house owner who wishes to extend the property properly to take into consideration the interests, wishes and concerns of their neighbours.’
Lord McKenzie of Luton (Labour) also backed the amendment, saying: ‘why not, as the noble Lord's amendment suggests, just leave it to the local planning authorities in the first place? Let them decide whether permitted development rights of the type described should run.’
The amendment went to a vote with 217 for and 211 against.
The debate moved on to Clause 9, covering the provision of broadband services. Lord Cavendish of Furness (Conservative) proposed Amendment 4, outlining his concern that government plans to promote broadband services in rural areas undermine ‘... the legal protection for national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.’
He continued: ‘... the clause, even as amended by the Government, continues to allow the introduction of proposed new regulations that will make it much easier for telecommunications companies to put up overhead wires and poles in protected areas without applying for planning permission.’
Baroness Whitaker (Labour) supported the amendment, saying: ‘... national parks are one of the greatest achievements of this country... we should be very careful how we safeguard their value, which has provided benefit to millions.’
The amendment was withdrawn after Baroness Hanham (Conservative), responded on behalf of the government, saying: ‘I reassure the House that the introduction of this new duty does not mean that protection of the environment is a lesser duty. It is not. The Government remain convinced that protection of the environment is crucial. That is why a code of best siting practice is being developed as a safeguard to ensure that fixed broadband equipment is sensitively sited.’
The bill will now return to the House of Commons with amendments.
Growth and Infrastructure Bill summary
The bill looks at the following areas:
- the use of infrastructure
- the carrying-out of development, and the compulsory acquisition of land
- how rating lists are to be compiled
- the rights of employees of companies who agree to be employee owners.
Previous stages of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill
What is third reading?
Third reading in the chamber is the final chance for the Lords to change the contents of a bill and plug any remaining loopholes.
The day before third reading starts, amendments (proposals for change) are published in a marshalled list – in which all the amendments are placed in order.
Unlike the House of Commons, amendments can be made at third reading in the House of Lords, provided the issue has not been fully considered and voted on at an earlier stage.
Amendments at third reading in the Lords are often used to clarify specific parts of the bill and to allow the government to make good any promises of changes to the bill made at earlier stages.