As an update on the second reading of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill that occurred last week, the Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons with 305 Ayes to 213 Noes. This means that the Bill proceeded on to Committee stage. This stage of the proceedings will conclude on Thursday 6 December 2012.
Eric Pickles was very vocal at the opening of the debate, and it was interesting to hear him elaborate on the Bill’s key themes. Mr Pickles vowed to “cut red tape” to allow the renegotiation of economically unrealistic s106 agreements. Of particular interest were his comments on affordable housing, where he referred to the fact that 75,000 homes with planning permission are lying unbuilt. The new powers introduced by this Bill are aiming to encourage renegotiation to prevent this.
Mr Pickles also vowed to “deal” with those Councils that insist on demanding large amounts of unnecessary paperwork to support planning applications. According to Mr Pickles, the Bill will therefore ensure that information requests from councils are genuinely related to planning and are proportionate to the scale and nature of the development proposed.
The changes proposed to the original Bill include the introduction of a fee on applications for modification or discharge of affordable housing requirements of a s106 agreement. Furthermore, where an application is made to renegotiate affordable housing obligations in a s106 agreement, the Secretary of State shall make an order by Statutory Instrument setting out the criteria by which viability (of the affordable housing scheme) is to be assessed.