The Government has recently announced that it will bring forward a new Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill in the Queen’s Speech.

The purpose of the bill is to support the Government’s ambition to deliver one million new homes and to ensure that Britain has the infrastructure to support long-term economic growth.

A summary of the main proposed planning provisions is below:

Pre-commencement planning conditions

  • Ensure pre-commencement conditions are only imposed by LPA’s where they are ‘absolutely necessary’.
    • This will be based on the fundamental principle that compensation should be based on the market value of the land in absence of the scheme underlying the compulsory purchase.

Neighbourhood planning

  • Improve the process for reviewing and updating plans.
  • Provide a more transparent duty for the government to support groups engaging in neighbourhood planning.

Compulsory purchase orders

  • Enhanced provisions to make the CPO process clearer, fairer and faster.
  • A new, clear statutory framework for agreeing compensation:
    • This will continue to be based on the market value of the land in absence of the scheme underlying the compulsory purchase and aims to consolidate and clarify over 100 years of statute and case law.

National Infrastructure Commission

  • Establish an independent National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) on a statutory basis.
    • The NIC will provide expert, independent advice on infrastructure issues by setting out a clear, strategic vision for projects needed over the next 10-30 years.
    • The Government intends that the NIC will help support the Government’s manifesto pledge to invest over £100 billion in the UK’s infrastructure over this Parliament and ensure that growth and opportunities are evenly distributed across the country, boosting productivity and competitiveness through high-quality infrastructure.

The Bill’s NIC provisions will apply across the UK, whilst its other main provisions will apply across England and Wales.

Our view

As with much of the planning legislation introduced in recent years, the main planning issues on Ministers’ minds is boosting housing supply and infrastructure. That again is the underlying purpose for this Bill, but there’s a long way to go before this Bill gains royal assent. Other presently unclear factors are the extent to which the Government’s legislative programme will be disrupted by the focus and allocation of resources on Brexit and changes in the Conservative Party’s leadership and how these factors may affect this particular Bill. We will be monitoring the details and progress of the Bill as more is revealed. Whilst the mechanisms generally appear welcome, this Bill will add to the increasingly voluminous, complex and disparate suite of planning legislation, despite part of its intent being to make processes clearer.