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Briefings

Member Briefing: Neighbourhood planning bill

Date: 08/09/16

Neighbourhood planning bill

Introduction

As announced in the Queen’s Speech in May, the government has introduced a new Neighbourhood Planning Bill. Originally entitled the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill, the two elements contributing to the “Infrastructure” element (placing the Infrastructure Commission on a statutory basis and the privatisation of land registry) are being reconsidered by the newly formed Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. A decision on whether to proceed with either proposal will be made later in the year.

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill is set out in two parts: Planning and Compulsory Purchase. The first part regarding planning extends to England and Wales but APPLIES to England only. The proposals for changes to compulsory purchase rules extend to Great Britain and APPLY to England and Wales.

PART 1: PLANNING

Neighbourhood Planning

Six clauses in the Bill seek to amend the neighbourhood planning process requiring greater weight to be placed on emerging plans by decision makers. Thus there is a new duty on decision makers to “have regard” to plans that have been independently examined and are awaiting a suitable referendum date. Plans that are agreed at referendum will immediately become part of the development plan rather than having to wait for ratification by a full Council meeting of the relevant local planning authority.

Modifications to the process for reviewing neighbourhood plans are also being introduced. At present the review or modification of a neighbourhood plan has to follow the same procedures as a newly prepared plan. A faster, light touch, review process is proposed.

The Bill also changes the obligations on local planning authorities in assisting communities preparing neighbourhood plans. LPAs will have to be more explicit in setting out the help they will give local communities in their statement of community involvement required by S18 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

There is a separate technical consultation on the proposals regarding neighbourhood plans which runs until 19th October 2016. It can be found here:

Planning Conditions

The Bill contains two new provisions regarding the adding of conditions to planning permissions. The first proposes that a local planning authority cannot grant a planning permission subject to any pre-commencement conditions, without first obtaining the applicant’s written agreement.

The second proposal gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations setting out the kind of conditions that may or may not be imposed on a planning permission. In effect, this will give statutory footing to the tests of reasonableness already contained within national planning practice guidance. It should also stop planning conditions being used to replicate issues controlled through other legislation such as building regulations.

There is also a separate consultation on the details of improving the use of planning conditions. This runs until 2nd November. It can be found here:

Planning Register

The Bill introduces a new requirement for the official register of planning applications to include information about prior approval applications or notifications for permitted development rights.

Essentially this provision is being introduced to allow for more methodical monitoring of the impact of the newly confirmed permitted development rights for the use of various types of existing buildings for residential purposes, particularly the conversion of offices to dwellings, of which, monitoring is currently poor. 

PART 2: COMPULSORY PURCHASE

The Bill contains a number of proposed changes to the compulsory purchase regime, seeking to simplify the process, particularly with regard to compensation payments. The new provisions build on the changes to the compulsory purchase regime introduced through the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Clause 22 of the Bill introduces the codification of the “No-scheme principle”. This idea was consulted on in March 2016 and the government has just published its response to that consultation here: 

There are a number of other technical changes to the compulsory purchase regime set out in the Bill, all of which, purport to make the process more transparent and simpler.

 

Andrew Whitaker

HBF Planning Director

September 2016