May 13th, 2022

Levelling up and Regeneration Bill – Real change?

This week saw the publication of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill which outlines the government’s long awaited planning reforms.

The bill (totalling 338 pages) details a variety of ways the government is seeking to shake up the planning system and deliver the policies outlined in the planning and levelling up white papers. There is a huge amount of information to digest in the Bill, but some of the headline points which stick out to us here at Northern Planners include:

  • Local plans will be given more weight when making decisions on applications, so that there must be strong reasons to override the plan. The new clause states ‘Planning applications should have regard to the Development Plan and National Development Management Policies and decisions must be made in accordance with the development plan and any Development Plan and National Development Management Policies, unless material considerations strongly indicate otherwise’ (our emphasis);
  • If to any extent the development plan conflicts with a national development management policy, the conflict must be resolved in favour of the national development management policy;
  • The ability to create National Development Management Policies;
  • The inclusion of new "street vote" powers, allowing residents on a street to bring forward proposals to extend or redevelop their properties in line with their design preferences. Where prescribed development rules and other statutory requirements are met, the proposals would then be put to a referendum of residents on the street, to determine if they should be given planning permission.
  • The provision to restrict the current community infrastructure levy to London and Wales and create a new "Infrastructure Levy", which could replace the current Section 106 agreements;
  • A new system of Environmental Outcomes Reports, which could replace the current Environmental Impact Assessment regime;
  • Extending the period for taking enforcement action to ten years in all cases;
  • The ability to set locally-led urban development corporations;
  • Remove the requirement for authorities to maintain a rolling five-year supply of deliverable land for housing, where their plan is up to date, i.e., adopted within the past five years;
  • A new duty for local authorities to maintain a Historic Environment Record;
  • Intention to increase planning application fees by 35% and 25% for major and minor applications respectively (subject to consultation) and;
  • A new fast track consenting process for certain types of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.
  • The government’s next steps now involve working up the detailed regulations, policy and guidance to support the objectives of the Bill with consultations taking place on how some of the key provisions can be taken forward. This includes a new National Planning Policy Framework.