I move amendment No. 11:
In page 4, line 5, after “and” to insert “is under active construction but cannot reasonably be completed, and”.
All three amendments are in my name so I will speak to them together. Regarding amendments Nos. 12 and 15, I will not repeat the arguments. It is the same set of arguments we have discussed substantively on the other amendments. Regarding amendment No. 12, there is a phrase that has slipped into our conversation from the start, namely, "substantial completion", and nowhere in the legislation is there reference to substantial completion. There is reference to substantial works being carried out. This is an important point and I want us to be clear about it.
One of my big concerns about the drafting of the Bill is the two core criteria, namely, the requirement for the development to have commenced and for substantial works to have been carried out. Again, the difficulty is that if there is a single development of 20 units, for example, and the foundations are laid and half built, that is pretty straightforward. However, if there is a much larger development with phases, if one phase has been completed but the other has not and if the developer is deliberately not moving forward on that throughout the first extension of planning permission, that is very different. One of the reasons I have proposed amendment No. 11 is that I think to be eligible for this extension, construction activity has to be taking place in addition to those other two criteria, and that would be a stronger criteria.
Again, this Bill has been presented from the very start as involving a developer actively constructing on site and wanting to finish within the existing extension and permission but not being able to do so because of the time, and the Minister is giving them sufficient time to finish the work. However, the conversation has now changed to focus on a development where, for example, nothing might have happened for five years. They could have had the commitments and substantial works in the original five years when they got their first extension but nothing is taking place, and we are now talking about giving them an extension. Perhaps it is to allow them to access finance or other things, but that is a much bigger issue. This goes back to the information I requested from the Minister's office at an earlier stage because we are discussing hypotheticals. We do not know, certainly on this side of the House, of the 50 to 100 developments, how many are actively being constructed now and urgently need this and how many are more hypothetical or speculative developments that may need more time to access finance. We are not sure whether they will get it or not, etc., and that is why active construction on site at the time the developer applies for the second extension is crucial.
The Minister talks about the case law in terms of developments having passed the point of no return. I would be interested to hear him tell us a little more about this. We know, for example, that there were ghost estates which one would have thought had passed the point of no return but then not the Minister's Government but an earlier Government took the decision that some of those would have to come down rather than be finished, even though they would have been commenced and, under the terms of this Bill, substantial work would have been carried out on them.