Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill update: House of Lords amendments

The House of Lords has been debating a raft of recently added amendments to the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill (the ‘Bill’). The headline amendment is the proposal to abolish the requirement for new developments to be nutrient neutral. The House of Lords rejected this proposal, therefore local planning authorities (LPAs) and developers are left with no clear indication on what will happen with regards to the requirement for new residential developments to be nutrient neutral.

Which amendments have been accepted by the House of Lords?

The House of Lords has accepted various planning and development related amendments that will be inserted into the Bill. However, the House of Commons will need to consider and agree these amendments before they are incorporated into the final version of the Bill: 

  • NDMPs: process for the Government to designate and review national development management policies (NDMPs), including minimum requirements for public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny;
  • Fees: allowing LPAs to set the fees for planning applications according to the cost of determining an application;
  • Biodiversity net gain: calculating pre-development biodiversity when the biodiversity value is lower as result of activities on site;
  • Ancient woodland: the Government will introduce a consultation for developments affecting ancient woodlands;
  • Floodplains: LPAs must not grant permission for residential properties to be built on functional floodplains or areas at high risk of flooding;
  • Climate change: Secretary of State and LPAs to have special regard to mitigation against and adaption to climate change;
  • Onshore wind: In addition to the recent amendments to the NPPF, within 6 months of the Bill becoming law, the Government must revise all national planning guidance on onshore wind and “ensure parity with other renewable and low carbon development”;
  • Housing need: a requirement for local housing plans to identify the local nature and scale of housing need and sufficient provision for social rented housing, to eliminate homelessness. The Government is also required to assess the impact of the Vagrancy Act 1824 on levelling-up and regeneration;
  • Health: the Government will produce a regulatory planning and built environment framework to promote  physical, mental and social health and wellbeing, as well as healthy homes and neighbourhoods; 
  • High street: the Government will engage with local authorities to prevent high street banks, post offices and cash machines from becoming vacant; and

Other amendments that the House of Lords has accepted include a requirement for the Government to keep a register of schools and hospitals in serious disrepair, amending the Building Safety Act, amending provisions for upgrading sewer plants and enabling local authorities to open their own childcare facilities.  

As can be seen, the Bill contains an ambitious and far-reaching legislative programme and much of the detail, even once the Bill comes into force, will require secondary legislation and a great deal of further information.

What’s next?

A third and final reading of the Bill in the House of Lords is scheduled for 21 September 2023. However, there is likely to be a game of Parliamentary ping-pong, with the Bill passing between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, until the Bill is agreed in a final form. The Bill will then receive royal assent and become legislation but it is currently not possible to put a definite time scale on this.

If you require any further information on the Bill, and how it may impact on you, please contact the public sector team.

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