Planning report withheld by Office of Deputy Prime Minister

Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, made a Freedom of Information request to see a planning inspector report into plans to build up to 10,000 houses between Hitchin and Stevenage. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister replied by stating that it will not release the document because it is an "internal communication" and therefore exempt from disclosure.

Mr Lilley has criticised John Prescott for refusing to release the report on the controversial proposed West of Stevenage development. Mr Lilley said: "It is clear that the Deputy Prime Minister is dragging his feet on this issue even though the inspector's report will be made public eventually, because he wants to slip it out at the same time as he announces his conclusions probably at a time it will attract the least possible attention. The plans would create a precedent that would open the way to house building on Green Belt land everywhere. So it is vital that no decision is taken until we have the inspector's report and have commented on it."

In a letter from the UK Freedom of Information Commissioner's Office, Iain Bourne said that he had "some doubts about whether a planning report is an internal communication". Mr Lilley said that he would appeal the decision.

MP accuses Prescott over planning report (Comet24, 31 July 2005)