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Neighbourhood Planning Bill launched

Words: Laura Edgar
Neighbourhood planning

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill has been launched in Parliament. It aims to speed up and streamline the neighbourhood planning process.

The government hopes that measures in the bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech in May, will support more house building and provide more local say over the development, said housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell.

It seeks to speed up and strengthen the neighbourhood planning process by simplifying how plans can be revised as local circumstances change. Additionally, it is expected that the bill will make sure that plans come into force sooner after being approved by local people.

Barwell said: “The prime minister has been absolutely clear that we need to build more homes and this bill is the first of a number of measures to deliver on that.

“We have already built more than 900,000 homes since 2010 and now this bill will help speed up delivery of the further new homes our country needs and ensure our foot is still firmly on the pedal.

“We’re also going further than ever before to speed up neighbourhood planning, which puts power in the hands of local people to decide where development gets built.”

The bill seeks to ensure that planning conditions that require developers to take action before work starts are only used when strictly necessary, but in a way that makes sure heritage and environmental safeguards remain in place, by inserting a new section into the Town and Planning Country Act 1990.

An explanatory note released alongside the legislation states that planning permission can’t be granted “subject to a pre-commencement conditions without the written agreement of the applicant to the terms of the condition”.

The secretary of state will be provided with the power to make regulations about what kind of conditions “may or may not be imposed on a grant of planning permissions, and in what circumstances”.

These regulations can only be made if the secretary of state is satisfied that “such is necessary for the purpose of ensuring that conditions imposed by local authorities are necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms; relevant to the development and planning considerations generally; sufficiently precise to make them capable of being complied with and enforced, and reasonable in all other aspects ‐ in line with the policy on conditions in the National Planning Policy Framework”.

Public consultations should be carried out before any regulations are made and a clause states that the bill won’t “restrict” the ability of local planning authorities to “seek to impose conditions that are necessary to achieve sustainable development”, according to the explanatory notes.

It also includes measures to simplify the compulsory purchase order process to make it “clearer, fairer and faster”. The measures should clarify the process, which is “currently based on a patchwork of statute and case law and make the system fairer for all parties”.

Consideration of privatising the Land Registry has also been paused.

The government has launched a consultation on the implementation of the provisions in the bill. It will run until midnight on 19 October 2016.

Reaction to the measures included in the bill can be found here.

The consultation can be found here.

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill can be found here (pdf).

The explanatory notes can be found here.

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