Following a swathe of political ping pong, the much anticipated Housing And Planning Bill received Royal Assent on 12 May 2016.
On receiving Royal Assent, Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said:
"Our landmark Housing and Planning Act will help anyone who aspires to own their own home achieve their dream. It will increase housing supply alongside home ownership building on the biggest affordable house building program since the 1970s. The act will contribute to transforming generation rent into generation buy, helping us towards achieving our ambition of delivering 1 million new homes."
To a certain degree we will have to wait and see how the Act will operate in reality and this will become apparent in the publication of the regulations. It is anticipated that the regulations will be published over the summer.
After the excitement of the Housing and Planning Act we could be forgiven for thinking that matters relating to planning may have settled for a little while, but this is not the case. Less than a week after the Housing and Planning bill gained Royal Assent, the government are continuing their quest to "reform planning and give local communities more power and control to shape their own area so that we build more houses" through the introduction of the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure bill. The Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure bill was unveiled in the Queen's Speech on 18 May 2016. A summary of the key proposals set out in the bill are set out below:
1. Neighbourhood planning
The proposals seek to strengthen neighbourhood planning by making local government duty to support groups more transparent, and improving the process for reviewing and updating plans.
The proposals have been welcomed by the British Property Federation; Chief executive Melanie Leech said: “We are very pleased to see this included in the bill, as neighbourhood planning has proved to be an extremely effective tool for ensuring that development is brought about in a way that is supported by local communities and meets their needs.”
The briefing note issued in support of the bill discussed the overuse of pre-commencement conditions which are seen to slow down the planning process. The briefing note suggests that planning conditions will only be used where they are "absolutely necessary". Whilst this amendment will be welcomed by many, it will be interesting to see how this operates in practice.
3. Compulsory purchase
The bill would make the compulsory order process "clearer, fairer and faster for all those involved". The focus is on creating a new statutory framework for agreeing compensation, with the "fundamental principle that compensation should be based on the market value of the land".
4. National Infrastructure Commission
The Bill has introduced proposals to establish the National Infrastructure Commission "on a statutory basis"
Commission Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Lord Adonis said:
"I strongly welcome the government’s announcement that it will make the National Infrastructure Commission statutory and independent. This is a major advance for infrastructure planning in Britain and will give the commission the power it needs to do its work."
The proposals are intended to create a statutory body that can provide government with expert, independent advice on infrastructure issues to unlock economic potential and increase growth across the country.
We will follow the progress of the Bill and wait to see if the political 'ping pong' that we saw throughout the Housing and Planning Act's passage through the Houses of Lords and Commons happens again.