New laws which the Government say will “speed up the planning system, hold developers to account, cut bureaucracy, and encourage more councils to put in place plans to enable the building of new homes” have come into effect as of the 26 October 2023 after the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill received Royal Assent.
A lengthy review process
Debated since 2022 the review process in both parliamentary houses resulted in a significant number of amendments to the legislation. In a statement published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Secretary of State Michael Gove said the Act “will deliver more homes for communities across the country and unleash levelling up in left behind places” through “a faster and less bureaucratic planning system”.
The Act has the potential to significantly reshape our planning system in the months and years to come. Not least as the Government has repeatedly promised to issue an updated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) once the bill obtained Royal Assent.
The impacts to Landowners, Planners and Developers
Some of changes in the Act, which are likely to impact landowners, planners and developers on a day-to-day basis, include:
- A new consenting route which will allow variations to existing planning permissions, including the variation of descriptions of development
- Extending the time limits allowed for Local Planning Authorities to take enforcement action to ten years
- Local Planning Authorities are to have powers to instigate rental auctions on properties in designated areas or streets which have been vacant or empty for a year
- Introduction of Community Land Auction Pilots
- Introduction of a street votes system where residents can propose development on their street and vote on whether planning permission should be given
- Reforms to compensation for Compulsory Purchase Orders to remove “hope value” from compensation payments in certain circumstances
- New requirements for developers to submit commencement notices specifying the date on which it is expected that development will be begun
- Powers for Local Planning Authorities to serve completion notices where they are of the opinion that the development will not be completed within a reasonable period. In addition, where applicants have been slow to implement previous permissions across local authority areas, Councils will be able to decline to determine applications from such applicants
- Opportunities for Local Planning Authorities to consider applicant’s previous build-out rates in the determination of planning applications
- A new Infrastructure Levy which will replace current Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) regimes
- Requirements for Local Planning Authorities to have design codes for the entirety of their administrative area
- Increased weight to local plans which will cover “locally specific matters”. Generic issues which apply in most areas will be covered by new National Development Management Policies
- A 30-month maximum timescale for the preparation of new local plans
- The replacement of Environmental Impact Assessments with new Environmental Outcomes Reports
Whilst the Bill receiving Royal Assent is a significant milestone, there is a still a lot of work left to bring the provisions into effect which will require a huge raft of further consultations, detailed technical work and secondary legislation.
If landowners would like to discuss the implications of the new Act on their future development aspirations, we would be pleased to lend our thoughts and assistance.
Ed Barrett: Area Planning Director 01788 726810 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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