Flagship legislation to overhaul planning receives Royal Assent
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill has become law.
The mammoth 534-page bill, designed to underpin the government’s levelling up agenda, received Royal Assent yesterday.
The legislation overhauls planning and plan-making, reforms developer contributions and enshrines the government’s “levelling up missions” in law.
Michael Gove, housing secretary, said: “Our landmark Levelling-Up and Regeneration Act will deliver more homes for communities across the country and unleash levelling up in left-behind places.
“It will deliver revitalised high streets and town centres. A faster and less bureaucratic planning system with developers held to account. More beautiful homes built alongside GP surgeries, schools and transport links, and environmental enhancement.
“Communities taking back control of their future with new powers to shape their local area. And our long-term levelling up missions enshrined in law.”
Here are some of the key measures at-a-glance:
Planning and land supply
- The act aims to streamline the local plan-making process and reduce duplication by ensuring authorities have a single local plan
- A new suite of national development management policies will be introduced to cover common planning considerations that apply widely in decision-making across different authorities (such as green belt and flood risk)
- The preparation, examination and adoption process is more “front-loaded” and evidence requirements reduced. The government expects plans adopted within 30 months
- The duty to co-operate will be removed – meaning an authority will not need to co-operate with neighbours so that its housing need is met by those neighbouring authorities
- The act would result in amendments to the National Policy Planning Framework which remove the current requirement for a rolling five-year supply of housing land, where the local plan is up to date
- The act allows planning fees for major and minor applications to be increased by 35% and 25% respectively
- Councils will be able to consider slow build-out rates when approving planning
Design codes and street votes:
- Every local planning authority will be required to produce a design code for its area. These will form part of a local plan or supplementary plan.
- The act includes new ‘street vote’ powers, which would allow residents on a street to bring forward proposals to redevelop their properties in line with their design preferences
- A new infrastructure levy will be introduced to replace the current Community Infrastructure Levy and much of the section 106 system. However the levy, which will be charged on the value of a property when it is sold, will not now be introduced fully for a decade.
- Locally-produced ‘infrastructure delivery strategies’ will determine where and how infrastructure spending is allocated
- The act gives the housing secretary power to order independent governance reviews of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Levelling up missions:
- The act requires the government to bring before parliament a statement of “levelling up missions”, which must include a target to reduce child poverty and an assessment of geographical disparities. Ministers must report on progress against these missions annually.
- Planning authorities will be given stronger powers to deal with those breaching planning rules and processes.
Download our report into the English planning system
The English planning system is currently showing signs of substantial strain. By most measures, performance is decreasing, and stakeholders are reporting significant dissatisfaction.
Waiting times for decisions are increasing, even while the numbers of positive approvals and total decisions made are falling. The proportion of local authorities with up-to-date plans is decreasing too, with the rate of approval of plans in the system running near record lows.
The system, run by cash-strapped local authorities, is being asked to function on less than half of the public funding it received a decade ago, despite application numbers, until very recently, having risen.
Consequently, the Building the Future Commission, run by Housing Today’s sister title Building, decided to undertake a review of the English planning system with the aim of forming recommendations to make it fit for purpose to deliver the homes the country needs.
Download the full report below.