Hot on the heels of the Housing and Planning Act receiving Royal Assent on 13 May 2016, the Government has used the State Opening of Parliament to confirm further proposed changes to the planning system. However, a number of measures trailed in the March 2016 Budget are not proposed for the next Parliamentary session, including measures to bring forward new garden cities, towns and villages.

The Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill

The Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill is to include measures to reduce delay to the start of new development. In particular, that planning conditions which need to be discharged before commencement of development should only be included in planning permissions where absolutely necessary. 

The Bill will introduce streamlined processes to support neighbourhoods in reaching agreement on where development should come forward in their local area. The duty on local planning authorities to support neighbourhood groups will be made more transparent and the process for reviewing and updating neighbourhood plans will be improved. 

The process for negotiation of compulsory purchase compensation is to be reformed with a view to reducing the time it takes to acquire land compulsorily. Following consultation already undertaken by the Government, it is proposed that a new statutory framework for the agreement of compensation be established. This will be based on the principle that compensation should be based on the market value of the land in the absence of the scheme underlying the compulsory purchase. 

The Bill will provide a new statutory basis for the National Infrastructure Commission, in order to achieve an independent assessment of the long-term infrastructure needs of the country. The Government believes that this will help deliver its manifesto pledge to invest more than £100 billion in high quality infrastructure over this Parliament, and also ensure that economic opportunities are distributed across the country. 

Finally, the Bill will enable the privatisation of the Land Registry. The Government believes that this will secure the delivery of a modern digitally based land registration service as well as a capital receipt for the Exchequer. The government consultation on the proposed privatisation remains open for responses until 26 May (please click here).

The Local Growth and Jobs Bill

Separately the Local Growth and Jobs Bill (which will only apply to England) proposes significant changes in local finance, giving local authorities full control of the money they raise through business rates, with a view to attracting business and investment to their areas and to growing their local economies. The Government predicts that allowing authorities to retain all of the business rates they collect will effectively transfer £13 billion a year to councils. 

New measures will also give powers to the mayors of combined authorities (where councils integrate economic development and transport functions across a functional economic area) to levy business rate supplements to fund infrastructure projects which have the support of local businesses, through the Local Enterprise Partnership.

March 2016 Budget measures not included

The following items were trailed in the March 2016 Budget but do not appear to have been included in the proposed legislative programme for the next session of Parliament:

  • Amendments to the legislative requirements to bring compulsory purchase orders into operation and clearer definitions of compulsory purchase terms;
  • Measures to bring forward new garden cities, towns and villages; and
  • Powers for Transport for London to finance infrastructure projects using increases in the value of its landholdings.