The Localism Act 2011 received Royal Assent on 15 November. As such, it is now law, although many of its provisions will not come into effect for several months yet.

There is a lot in the Act that will be of interest to planning practitioners. As well as the neighbourhood planning proposals and the community rights to bid and challenge, new enforcement powers are legislated for. These deal primarily with how an authority can enforce after the current four or ten year period in cases of deliberate concealments of planning breaches, but there will also be a power for local authorities to refuse retrospective applications for development which is the subject of enforcement action, and an end to ground (a) enforcement appeals if a retrospective application has been submitted to the planning authority.

CLG has suggested that the planning enforcement changes and community right to build provisions could come into force in April 2012, with right to challenge, right to bid and neighbourhood planning provisions following in October 2012.

Regional Strategies (RS) will remain in force for the time being, as the Act only gives the Secretary of State the power to revoke them. The environmental assessments are of course still under consultation and the NPPF is still in draft form, so it is unlikely that the RSs will be revoked before those issues are dealt with.

The Act can be read here