The Growth and Infrastructure Bill was published on 18 October 2012. The stated aim of the bill is to "help the country compete on the global stage by setting out a comprehensive set of practical reforms to reduce confusing and overlapping red tape that delays and discourages business investment, regeneration and job creation".

Here is a summary of the proposed key changes:

  • A new section 36C for the Electricity Act 1989 allowing S36 consents (consents for large generation projects) to be varied and planning permission deemed in connection with such applications.
  • Power for the Secretary of State to direct that certain business and commercial projects should be considered as Nationallly Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs). Developments which include any residential development at all would be excluded.
  • The Special Parliamentary Procedure (SPP) for Development Consent Orders will no longer apply where a statutory undertaker or local authority has objected to its land being taken for a NSIP. The SPP will also no longer apply to open space land where no suitable replacement land is available and the delay caused by following the SPP would not be in the public interest. The SPP will remain applicable to National Trust Land.
  • More flexibility in the power to make costs awards in planning and compulsory purchase matters whether or not an inquiry actually took place.
  • New provisions for the Commons Act 2006 allowing a landowner protect their land by submitting a declaration to prevent town or village green rights from arising.
  • The ability for developers to apply for onerous affordable housing obligations under S106 Agreements to be set aside or varied if it means that the development is otherwise not economically viable. This will include a right to appeal determinations by the local planning authority or Mayor of London to the Secretary of State.
  • The local authority's power to require information in relation to a planning application will be subject to a test of reasonableness.
  • The option to make a planning application for a prescribed development directly to the Secretary State, bypassing a prescribed local planning authority (in effect one which has been identified as not performing).
  • Powers to be introduced to make it easier to stop-up public paths and bridleways by allowing an application for stopping-up to proceed concurrently with the relevant planning application.
  • Amendments to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to allow the Secretary of State to provide consent for disposal at less than best value on a particular class of land disposals when previously consents had to be given individually.
  • Relaxation of the restrictions on installing electronic communications equipment in National Parks until April 2018.
  • Amendments to the Highways Act 1980 allowing an owner of land to lodge evidence against any presumption that the public have acquired rights to use a highway by long use.

The Bill was presented to Parliament on 18 October 2012. This is known as the first reading and there was no debate on the Bill at this stage.

This Bill is expected to have its second reading debate on 5 November 2012. It has been referred to as 'emergency legislation' therefore could be considered by Parliament at some pace.