Levelling Up

We reported recently on the new Energy Act 2023, and a matter of days later, the Levelling UP and Regeneration Bill received Royal Assent on the 2nd November and is now an Act.

It has been 17 months in the making and is now law. Having said that, as always with new legislation, it will require a raft of consultations followed by secondary legislation to put meat on the bones of these ground-breaking reforms.

The new Act covers a wide range of planning and infrastructure issues with a significant part of it being around simplifying the content and therefore the adoption of Local Plans. The new reforms include a 30 month deadline for making new plans, a new area wide design code, and a number of other matters.

The Act introduces a new type of national policy being the National Development Management Policy (NDMPs). NDMPs will cover issues of national importance such as climate change, greenbelt and heritage. This will be overarching to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) with the aim being that the presence of the new Policy will assist local authority decision making as they will only have to consider 'local' issues. The new NDMP will be dealt with by the Secretary of State.

Local planning powers will be strengthened as the new law evolves so that decisions on applications must be made in accordance with the local plan, and also the NDMP, with few exceptions to the rule.

There are a number of what might be deemed heavy handed powers being given to authorities in respect of housing developers.

In a real shot across the bows, the new Act gives a local authority the power to refuse to decide applications if the developer has a track record of building out too slowly or not implementing planning permissions at all in the area. It will be interesting to see if this power is ever used or how it will be policed, or to what extent.

This means an authority will also have the ability to serve a notice on the developer warning it may revoke a permission if it thinks a development will not be completed within a reasonable time.

This, and a number of other matters too many to mention here, are all intended at speeding up delivery of new homes, but we await further details before commenting whether this will be the case.

A further change which continues to receive a lot of opposition is the new form of developer contribution which will replace the Community Infrastructure Levy and to a large extent, Section 106 Agreements.

Designed for an authority to receive some of the increase in land value that development brings, the levy will be charged as a percentage of the value of the property at completion. This comes with its own problems and will this work out any differently to the system presently in place? It still sees the authority obtaining money to put into a development pot so at present the difference appears to be the value of the properties will dictate the amount put into the pot.

As the figures involved become clearer it is bound to put downward pressure on development land values.

There are many changes that will appear under the umbrella of this Act, matters such as extending the enforcement period for planning breaches in England from four to ten years; changes to compulsory purchase compensation rules (PFK Rural have already commented elsewhere upon under the new Energy Act), plus many others too, we will watch the progress of this particular legislation with interest.

If you would like to discuss this, or any aspect of planning and development, do not hesitate to give us a call. 

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Wednesday, 17 July 2024