Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Speaking at the 1st Annual Chilterns Planning Conference at Chesham, Bucks Peter Lilley called on local authorities throughout the Chiltern Area to act together to tackle the problem of speculative land sales in the Green Belt.

    “Following a meeting I had with the Planning Minister, he has agreed that officials will meet officers from any local authorities who are affected by the problem of speculative land sales to explore what changes in legislation would help resolve the issue. I welcome this and I am very pleased that both Local Authorities in my constituency – St Albans and North Herts District Councils – have responded positively. I urge all other authorities in the Chiltern area to do likewise to find ways to protect this beautiful area.”

    Peter Lilley explained: “At present local authorities have only two weapons to combat this problem and both are somewhat flawed. First, a local authority can prohibit the subdivision of land by fencing, and the building of sheds or installation of caravans – by using what is called an Article 4 Direction. But there are two problems with this. It cannot be applied retrospectively after subdivision has taken place and it requires approval by the Local Government Office which can take time.

    “Second, they can serve an Untidy Land Notice requiring the owners to tidy up the site. (This is called a Section 215 notice). The problem with this is that each individual plot owner has to be notified – and there can be hundreds. I am seeking a change in the law so that plot owners can be deemed to be notified immediately the local authority posts a warning notice on the land in question.”