THE LEVELLING-UP AND REGENERATION ACT 2023
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 became law in England on 26 October. A key manifesto pledge of the Conservative government elected in 2019, the Act (in the government’s own words) aims to:
“support the government’s commitment to reducing geographical disparities between different parts of the UK by spreading opportunity more equally. The Act will also require the government to report annually on its progress, support the devolution of powers in England and create a framework for the delivery of green homes.”
At the time of writing, many of the provisions in LURA2023 relevant to the planning system have not come into effect. The Act provides a legislative framework within which those changes can be brought into practice. Many of the provisions will require significant further consultation and, in most cases, secondary legislation and will be some way off.
Key changes that are likely to impact the planning system when they are implemented include:
- Wide ranging provisions that would facilitate the digitisation of planning and speeding up of the preparation of local plans. Changes to the local plan process have the potential to significantly affect the way that development is managed through the plan-led system in England.
- The introduction of National Development Management Policies could represent a significant shift in the current system. Such policies are currently prepared locally in each local development plan, leading to duplication of time and cost in preparation, but reflecting local circumstances and council objectives. Under the new system, development management policies will instead be prepared by central government and automatically be imported into all local plans in England and would take priority over any conflicting local plan policies in those plans.
- The abolition of the ‘duty-to-cooperate’ in the preparation of development plans.
- A change to the period within which enforcement can be taken against those who have breached planning control to ten years for all types of enforcement.
- A provision where the previous poor record of an applicant in not implementing permissions in its area or building them out unreasonably slowly could be used as a reason for refusal against granting further planning permissions for that applicant.
- Processes to improve the current options for amending existing planning permissions through ‘s.73’ of the 1990 Act – which would allow permissions to be granted where they are not substantially different in effect to a previous permission on the site – but with consideration only being given to the proposed changes.
- The introduction of a new Infrastructure Levy to replace the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and some Section 106 legal agreements.
- The introduction of Environmental Outcomes Reports to replace the current EIA regime.
- The introduction of Street Votes to facilitate permissions for popular types of development in a local area.
- Community Land Auctions to allow landowners to grant options over land in their control to a local council, which would take effect if the land is allocated for development in a future development plan.
- A new duty that requires local planning authorities to have “special regard to the desirability of preserving or enhancing” specified heritage assets or their setting.
- Not directly a change to planning but affecting areas where the problem currently exists and which restricts the delivery of new homes, the Act requires the upgrading of wastewater treatment facilities by water companies to remove nutrient pollution at source by 2030.
- Changes to compulsory purchase compensation rules to allow land to be bought at existing use value for schemes delivering significant affordable housing.
Keep an eye on our Articles for updates as and when significant changes come into effect.
TOWN PLANNING IN ENGLAND – WHERE ARE WE TODAY?
The planning system in England is in a constant state of flux. In 2023/4 this state of flux feels particularly uncertain.
There a scores of consultations affecting the planning system which are either awaiting government response, ongoing or which we know are coming as a result of the enactment of the LURA in October 2023.
Not least, changes to the NPPF are expected at any time.
We also know that a General Election has to take place before January 2025. It is inevitable that the planning system and policy (housing, the economy, the environment, protection of the Green Belt etc etc) will be key fighting issues for the parties seeking election or re-election.
This is therefore going to be a significant period of change and TownPlanning.info will provide a commentary, comment and insight on the upcoming changes.
TownPlanning.info has an extensive catalogue of articles and guides which help explain the town planning system in England.
See below for links to some of our most popular pages or use the search function and menus at the top of the page.