The Neighbourhood Planning Bill had its second reading yesterday, with the Government giving little away on substance but making it clear that it will be progressed swiftly through the legislative process.
The Bill was introduced by Sajid Javid who stressed the need for more co-operation and joint planning as well as streamlining of plan processes. He also indicated that in terms of requiring local authorities to have plans in place “Should primary legislation be required, I look to use this Bill as the vehicle for it.”
The Minister for Housing and Planning, Gavin Barwell, responded to observations made and questions raised in the debate. He identifed a "tension" between the relative lack of weight given to neighbourhood plans, where local authorities had no plans or a “wholly deficient plan that does not meet housing need in its area”. While acknowledging the frustrations caused by delays in approving conditions or completing 106 agreements, Gavin Barwell also had a warning for developers – “I think we have a right to turn to the development industry and ask what it is going to do to raise its game in terms of the speed with which it builds out.”
The Bill will now go to a Public Committee. The membership of this Committee could be announced as early as Thursday this week and the meetings are scheduled to conclude by Tuesday 1 November. With the Report Stage, Legislative Grand Committee and Third Reading to take place over one day, the Bill could easily be in the House of Lords in early December.