The Government has published the Neighbourhood Planning Bill - bringing in changes that reach far beyond its modest title.
In terms of neighbourhood planning changes include enhanced status for neighbourhood development plans in the planning system, greater flexibility for modification of plans and more scope for local areas to work together. However, it is the provisions of the Bill relating to conditions and compulsory purchase that are likely to have the most impact and attract the greatest attention.
For planning conditions, the Bill would prevent the imposition of pre-commencement conditions unless they are first agreed with the applicant, and give the Secretary of State power to make regulations about what conditions can be imposed generally, referring to "continuing concerns about the number of unnecessary or otherwise unacceptable conditions attached to permissions”.
Reforms are also proposed in relation to compulsory purchase, introducing a general power to obtain temporary possession of land, and a new joint power for either the GLA or TfL to promote a CPO for both authorities on a combined transport and regeneration or housing scheme.
In addition, a new principle is introduced for compensation – that it should be assessed “as if the scheme underlying the compulsory purchase was cancelled on the valuation date”.
Government has also published two new consultations:
- The first is on the content of the regulations implementing the neighbourhood planning clauses including the procedures for modifying neighbourhood plans and a requirement for local planning authorities to review their Statements of Community Involvement regularly. This closes on 19 October 2016
- The other is on the proposals in relation to pre-commencement and unnecessary conditions, including a “Table 1 … summary of the current list of planning conditions” that the Government suggests are non-compliant with the Planning Framework. This closes on 2 November 2016