This is entry number 297, published on 22 November 2011, of a blog on the Planning Act 2008 infrastructure planning and authorisation regime. Click here for a link to the whole blog. If you would like to be notified when the blog is updated, with links sent by email, click here.
Today's entry reports on the differences between the original Localism Bill and the Localism Act 2011.
The Localism Act 2011 finally entered the statute books last week. What changes were made to it from when it was first introduced in December 2010, to result in the final version?
Over 600 amendments were made to the Bill as it passed through Parliament, but very few were made to the infrastructure planning provisions. Here are the latter in detail and a summary of the former.
Changes to the Planning Act regime
The changes to the regime that the Localism Bill originally contained are all still there and will all continue to be made at the start of April 2012. They are as follows:
- the application-examining role of the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) is to be taken over by the Planning Inspectorate;
- the decision-making role of the IPC is to be taken over by the Secretary of State, with a consequential extension to the timetable for applications of three months;
- the government is to be able to arrange for the seamless transition of 'live' and forthcoming applications;
- the House of Commons is to be able to disapprove of National Policy Statements;
- the Planning Act regime is to be able to have further consents added to it;
- the ability is introduced to 'upgrade' a below-threshold project into the regime at an earlier stage;
- there is a reduction in the number of local authority consultees;
- only summary statements of community consultation need be published in newspapers;
- there is an extension of the ability to compel landowners to give title information to all those who could make a claim for compensation;
- there is an extension of the ability to compel landowners to allow entry on their land for surveying purposes;
- additional people can become parties interested in an application after the end of the objection period;
- 'requirements' (i.e. conditions) can involve the approval of various bodies;
- there is a slight amendment to the compulsory purchase notice requirements; and
- pre-application advice can be given on the merits of a proposed application.
The following four further provisions were added to the Bill during its passage:
- only devolved consents rather than any consent in Wales cannot be added to the regime;
- there is a relaxation of the standards of applications, so it is now those that the government considers 'satisfactory';
- if earlier stages of considering an application are completed early, later stages start earlier (I am claiming responsibility for that one); and
- Special Parliamentary Procedure will only apply to the taking of statutory undertaker, local authority or National Trust land if that organisation actually objects to the land being taken, rather than just making a representation of any kind.
Other changes to the Bill
The Bill was amended all over the place, but the following were the most significant changes to be made:
- an ability for councils alone or together to apply to take over other public functions was introduced; and
- the ability for 'local finance considerations' to influence decisions on planning applications was introduced.
- the general requirement to hold a local referendum if 5% of the electorate called for one was dropped; and
- the appointment of shadow mayors in advance of mayoral elections was dropped.
Shake it all about:
- the local authority duty to co-operate on planning policies was considerably reworded (and lengthened).
The controversial National Planning Policy Framework was consulted upon during the passage of the Bill, but is not referred to in the Bill as such, being guidance rather than legislation.