Neighbourhood Planning Bill 2016/2017

On 7 September 2016 the Neighbourhood Planning Bill 2016-2017 received its first reading in the House of Commons.  The aim of the Bill is to free up more land to build houses and speed up the planning process to enable more houses to be delivered.  The Bill follows on from the passing of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and is the latest set of measures introduced by the Government to achieve its aim of delivering one million new houses by 2020.

The Bill includes measures to improve neighbourhood planning, the use of the planning conditions and the compulsory purchase regime.  A summary of the Bill is set out below.

Neighbourhood Planning

The Queens Speech on 18 May 2016 indicated that the Bill would strengthen neighbourhood planning to give more power to local people.

The Bill contains measures to ensure planning authorities take account of well-advanced neighbourhood plans and give plans full force immediately once they have been passed by a referendum.  The Bill will also introduce a more flexible process for modifying Neighbourhood Plans or Orders.

The Bill will allow the Secretary of State to make regulations which set out the procedures for modifying Neighbourhood Plans and Orders, modifying neighbourhood areas where a Neighbourhood Plan has already been made and will impose obligations on local authorities to review Statements of Community Involvement at regular intervals.

The Government has started a public consultation, running from 7 September 2016 to 19 October 2016, to obtain views on the detailed regulations on neighbourhood planning which should be implemented pursuant to the Bill.  A summary of the consultation will be published within 12 weeks of the end of the consultation period.

Planning Conditions

The Bill seeks to restrict the misuse of planning conditions, and in particular pre-commencement conditions, by ensuring certain planning conditions are only used where necessary to achieve sustainable development.  The Bills aims to tackle the issues of too many unnecessary conditions being imposed in planning permissions and the restrictive use of pre-commencement conditions. 

At this stage it is proposed that legislation will be introduced to ensure pre-commencement conditions are only used with the agreement of the applicant to ensure the early challenge of unnecessary planning condition.  Where the agreement of the applicant is not obtained it would appear that the local authority will have the option to change the condition, amend the condition so it can be complied with post-commencement, remove the condition or refuse planning permission.  Regulations will also be introduced to prohibit the use of certain other conditions where they do not meet national policy tests.

Again, the Government will be consulting on the proposition of applicants agreeing to pre-commencement conditions and the conditions which should be prohibited by regulations and this consultation will run from 7 September 2016 to 2 November 2016.  A summary of the consultation will be published before the Bill's Second Reading in the House of Commons.

Compulsory Purchase

The Bill aims to change the compulsory purchase regime so the process is clearer, fairer and faster.  This will include provisions to deal with negotiating the market value of land when agreeing levels of compensation, will introduce a general power to obtain temporary access of land and will make a requirement for compulsory purchase orders to be brought into operation within a specified period of time.

A public consultation on the compulsory purchase regime took place earlier this year. 

Posted on: 12/09/2016

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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