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What Does the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill mean for Planning?

You might recall our September 2020 article on the Planning White Paper, “Planning for the Future” (and our follow up article about the Select Committee’s inquiry into the proposals, Select Committee Report – The Future of the Planning System in England, July 2021). 

Rumours followed the publication of the Planning White Paper: the bold zoning ideas were a bitter pill for disgruntled Tory backbenchers; the proposals effected the loss of the Chesham and Amersham seat; there was to be a massive U-turn!  The zonal approach to planning, the bold “once in a generation reforms” were being ditched?

On 11 May 2022 the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (affectionately, LURB) was published.  This document brings forward some of the planning changes proposed in the earlier Planning White Paper “where they support our approach to Levelling Up”. 

The proposal to categorise, or zone, land with areas identified for growth given permission in principle is gone.  However, the weight to be given to the Local Plan will increase.  Planning decisions will need to be in accordance with the plan unless material considerations strongly indicate otherwise.  It is going to be very important to get land allocations right, and difficult to deviate from the plan once in place. 

This does not mean that difficult plan-making decisions can be dragged out indefinitely (hopefully!).  Currently only 39% of local authorities have up-to-date plans. Regulations will be updated giving an expectation that plans be produced within 30 months and updated within 5 years.  Policies that apply nationally will be set out nationally, removing their need for inclusion in Local Plans. Community engagement and neighbourhood planning remain important. Parish Councils and neighbourhood forums will be able to produce a simpler neighbourhood priorities statement, which the local authority must take account of in local plan production.

LURB introduces street votes, applications for Crown Land development direct to the Secretary of State in certain circumstances, a limited ability to make non substantial changes planning permissions, including the description of development.

A new, locally set, infrastructure levy is being taken forward, with the aim that it captures at least as much affordable housing as developer contributions do currently.

Changes will be required to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), it will be streamlined, focussing on principles to take into account in plan-making.  National Development Management Policies will include the elements of the current NPPF that deal with decision making and seek to cover current omissions. Many other elements of LURB will also be the subject of further consultation.

LURB can be found here:

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-03/0006/220006.pdf

Posted on 9 June, 2022 by Ortolan

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