The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 received Royal Assent on 25th April 2013.

The Government’s flagship growth legislation is intended to boost economic growth, housing and jobs by introducing a comprehensive series of practical measures to reduce confusing and overlapping red tape which causes delays and discourages business investment.

Key points which are of interest include:

  • The introduction of an option to make a planning application directly to the Secretary of State where a Local Planning Authority has designated as being a “poor performer”.
  • Amending what information a Local Planning Authority can ask for in support of a planning application, all requests must be reasonable and relate to matters that are likely to be material planning considerations.
  • Allowing for the modification or discharge of affordable housing obligations within a s106 Agreement to assist with making developments viable.
  • The introduction of provisions to enable the stopping up or diversion of footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways under s257 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to commence prior to planning permission being issued (currently an applicant must wait until planning permission has been issued before initiating the process).
  • Allowing for a statement and map to be deposited to protect land from registration as a town and village green whilst still allowing public access to it. In addition certain trigger events are set out which will prevent land being registered as a town or village green. Trigger events include the publishing of an application for planning permission.
  • Providing powers to vary planning consents for energy infrastructure projects once granted under s36 of the Electricity Act 1989.
  • Allowing for significant commercial and business development to be considered as an NSIP and be brought within the planning regime for Nationally Significant Infrastructure.

A note of caution, despite receiving Royal Assent the majority of the provisions of the Act are not yet in force as they require further legislation to fill out the detail. Therefore we will have to wait before we can fully assess the impact of the Act.