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Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Lords debate planning conditions

Words: Laura Edgar
Neighbourhood planning

The House of Lords has debated what power the secretary of state should have over planning conditions and whether or not the power should extend to development orders in their consideration of the Neigbourhood Planning Bill.

The Lords discussed inserting Clause 12(1) into the bill, which would introduce section 100ZA into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

According to Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Con), the parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Communities and Local Government and Wales Office, this would provide the secretary of state the power to make regulations about what kind of conditions may or may not be imposed and in what circumstances.

Clause 12 allows the secretary of state to exercise this power in respect of any planning permission, including permission and development orders granted by the secretary of state, the Mayor of London, local authorities or neighbourhood planning groups.

An amendment would restrict new Section 100ZA from applying to order-making powers, because development orders are not granted for a single application but often an area, therefore a number of limitations may need to be imposed, said Bourne.

The power would not, he continued, apply to development orders, simplified planning zones, enterprise zones, and development control procedures.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab) tabled amendment 29, which seeks to install in the bill a provision for the secretary of state to allow local planning authorities to make exceptions to the power being taken by the government in Clause 12(1)(a) to (c).

“It is becoming clear how inappropriately named this bill is – it is a complete misnomer. In this clause the government are again taking more powers to order local authorities to do things. I can see nothing ‘localist’ about that and nothing that supports neighbourhood planning in any way.”

Amendment 29 would therefore allow some discretion for local planning authorities to make exceptions, said Kennedy.

Lord Shipley (LD) also expressed concerned about clause 12, particularly subsections (2), (5) and (6) in Section 100ZA. He questioned what discussions had taken place with the RTPI.

He referred to an RTPI briefing that “broadly speaking” said there are "advantages to pre-commencement conditions”.

“These have certain advantages to applicants who may not be in a position to finalise details of a scheme but wish to secure a planning permission as soon as possible. They have advantages to local authorities because councils may have in practice limited legal ability to enforce conditions once a scheme is under way. Conditions are useful to the development industry in general because they enable schemes to be permitted which otherwise might have to be refused,” he added.

Both Shipley and Lord True (Con) said faster and better planning decisions might be taken as a result of having pre-commencement conditions.

Amendments 31 and 32 aimed to ensure that there would not be an adverse effect on sustainable development.

In response, Bourne said the provision of clause 12 would not prevent local authorities from agreeing conditions and provides that conditions can be reached by agreement with the developers.

Bourne said it is “essential” that the planning system promotes development that is both sustainable and in the public interest, and empowers local authorities that want to see this kind of development in its area.

“Clause 12 will not restrict the ability of local planning authorities to seek to impose planning conditions that are necessary to achieve sustainable development in line with national policy. The proposals will not change the way in which conditions can be used to maintain existing protections for important matters such as heritage, the natural environment, sustainable development and measures to mitigate the risk of flooding,” he explained.

Following the debate, Bourne asked the Lords and Baronesses to not press their amendments.

Amendments 28, 30, 35, 39, 40, 42, 42 and 43 were agreed.

Amendments 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 38, 43A and 44 were not moved.

Clause 12 was agreed.

The transcript from the third session of the Neighbourhood Planning Bill can be found here.

Read more about the House of Lords committee stage here:

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Lords express concerns about planning conditions measures

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Lords approve government changes

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