Well we have had about a week to poor over it and had the benefit of analysis from some very learned individuals. Here is our summary of what the Queens Speach means for planning in England.
That is assuming the government can get it through!
On 11 May 2022 the Government introduced to the House of Commons the Levelling-up and
Regeneration Bill and the Levelling Up and Regeneration: further information policy paper. Both are designed to make provision for making changes to the way the established planning system works. These propose very Conservative (with a Capital C) changes to the system that will feel friendly to the Blue areas of England.
The Bill introduces the concept of planning data and some broad definitions of what is it includes. It also prescribes a route where a faliure to comply with a planning data request from the LPA will render the whole submission null and void.
The Bill proposes regulations for the provision of public notices and the information that LPA’s must make avaliable to the public and in what form.
LPA’s must use approved software (by the SoS) for the collection and storage of Planning Data hence the days of weird websites and ‘local solutions’ are numbered.
The Bill reinforces the primacy of national development management policy over local policies and where there is a dispute weighs heavilly in favour of national policies first.
A new definition of national development management policy is to be introduced and so this foreshadows the SoS designating a new National Development Management Policy Document which will set out national policies on issues that apply in most local authorities.
The Bill stipulates that determinations must be made in accordance with the development plan and NDMPs unless material considerations strongly indicate otherwise. The primacy of policy over local discretionary decision making therefore returns to planning.
The NPPF will be reformed once again (version 4 on its way) and this will include the removal of the rolling five-year housing land supply penalty for Local Plans that are less than 5 years old.
Heritage assets gain further protections with the requirement to preserve or enhance being incorperated within the 1990 Act for the first time.
The bill introduces the concept of street-votes which reads very much like an extension of the Local Development Order powers of the early 2000’s. The street vote powers would allow residents on a street to bring forward proposals to extend or redevelop their properties in line with their design preferences.
This, on the surface, appears to be a modest re-introduction of Circular 18/84 allowances for crown development that is considered to be of national importance.
Minor Variations in Planning Permission
This introduces new powers to amend planning permissions in limited circumstances to provide
greater flexibility following recent caselaw. The new provisions will allow an applicant to make “non substantial changes” to a permission, “including descriptor of development and conditions”.
Development Commencement notices
A commencement notice will be required before any work is commenced on site in accordance with a planning permission. This essentially fixes the gap in the current legislation and removes the need for LDC’s on applications that have been implemented.
This fixes the gap within legislation allowing LPA’s on uncompleted sites to issue a notice specifying when the work must be finished. After which date the planning permission for the unfinished
parts will cease if the work is not completed.
Much of the enforcement section of the bill is a big fix of discrepancies and weaknesses within the Act. The main points are:
- A universal time limit of 10 years for all development;
- Enforcement warning notices for approvable development;
- Temporary stop notice effect increased to 56 days;
- Removal of ground a appeals where a planning application has been made for the same development;
- Penalties for delays caused by the appellant is responsible for undue delay in the progress of the appeal;
- Penalties for non-compliance are also increased;
- Relief from enforcement of planning conditions in specified circumstances.
- Doubling fee’s for retrospective applications in line with the current ground a fee.
The Bill suggests changes to bring England in line with wales in terms of community consultation as a required pre-submission step for larger forms of development. These provisions are already in place in wales and expected to take the same form.
CIL and much of S106 is to be abolished in favour of a national Infrastructure Levy that will replace both with one combined levy. Unlike CIL, IL is to be charged as a proportion of property value. The Policy Paper explains further that it is the Government’s intention indeed to reduce the scale of s106 planning obligations so that s106 agreements will be used: (1) on the largest sites in place of IL (provided that the value of the infrastructure being provided in that way is not less than that which would be achieved under IL); and (2) on other sites where “narrowly focused” s106s will be used to provide onsite infrastructure. The Policy paper also suggests that the Government’s intention is that Affordable Housing will be delivered through the IL.
Environmental Outcomes Reports
The bill makes provision for regulations to allow plans that have an impact relating to environmental protection to be assessed through environmental outcomes reports. The Explanatory Note suggests that these build on the mandatory information required in the reporting stages of an environmental impact assessment or a strategic environmental assessment.
There are minor changes to compulsory purchase proposed. these are summerised as:
- Publishing notices of the making of a CPO must also be done in successive editions of a weekly local newspaper and on an appropriate website;
- Changes the minimum 21 day objection period so it must be at least 21 days;
- Notice of confirmation of the CPO must also be published on a website for at least six weeks;
- There will no longer be an automatic right for objectors to require a public local inquiry into the confirmation of the CPO;
- CPO will be allowed subject to conditions.
Overall the bill reads and feels like a return to the expert system of the 1950’s. Discretionary decision making gets harder and a more nationalised focus on planning takes its place. Lets see if planning V2022 works for the best.