Planning changing in England??

21 May 2022

Bill Introduced May 2022

The government have produced the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill that supports the White Paper produced earlier in the year Levelling up the United Kingdom.

Main Themes

The Bill covers four main themes:

  1. Providing a legal basis for setting and reporting on the levelling up mission
  2. New Devolution Structures for the England
  3. Empowerment of local leaders to regenerate town and cities
  4. Improving the Planning process.

The government has produced a summary of the main points in the bill and also detailed supporting measures to work alongside the Bill.

The Chief Planner has said that it is expected that the Bill will be enacted at the end of 2022 or the start of 2023.

Points Noted

Understanding this wide-ranging bill and its supporting procedural changes is not a short task, some points worth noting:

  • Changes to Local Government to support greater devolution and new types of combined authority.
  • Local Plans will be given greater weight in the planning process
  • There will be a suite of National Development Management Polices including elements such as Heritage Protection which are intended to make the whole Local Plan Faster.
  • The Local Plan will use more digital technology to improve efficiency.
  • There will be a system of ‘supplementary plans’ to allow quick local policy changes or design standards which will carry more weight that current Supplementary Planning Documents.
  • There are changes to enable more local participation in the planning process.
  • The proposals to place land in prescribed categories outlined in the Planning for the Future White Paper will not be taken forward.
  • There will be changes to ensure that levies for Infrastructure development are better aligned and more appropriate for development.
  • The recommendations from the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission are to be reflected in a National Model Design Code and stronger policies on the importance of good design.
  • There are changes to enhance protection to historic buildings.
  • Increased weight will be given to the areas of environmental importance National Parks, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, Flood risk areas and the Green Belt.
  • There area number of changes to support land assembly and regeneration.  Including more powers for local authorities to compulsory purchase brownfield land. 
  • Powers to support regeneration by a new type of Urban Development Corporation together will changes to other types for Development Corporation.
  • Changes to improve the transparency of who owns land.
  • The bill we empower communities being involved in pre-application discussions on developments.
  • The requirement for authorities to have a rolling 5 year supply of housing will be removed where their plan is up to date.

The details are obviously still be worked out.  The publication of the National Development Management Policies, National Model Design Code, and a revised National Planning Policy Framework) NPPF are awaited with interest.

Impact on Guildford

The points above might cause changes locally, including:

  1. The Local Government organisation changes will re-ignite the debate about unitary authorities etc.
  2. Environmental Protection may impact more planning options.
  3. A Urban Development corporation could become a mechanism to handle the implementation of a Town Centre Master Plan.
  4. Supplementary Plans may be useful in managing areas and major windfall sites.
  5. The changes related to a Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 could provide proper infrastructure provision in the Guildford Area.

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