Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill: planning reforms

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill (the ‘Bill’) has been making its way through Parliament since May 2022 and is now nearing its end-game. The Bill includes a plethora of planning reforms and the House of Lords has been debating a number of recently added amendments. By way of a round-up, we take a brief look at the main planning reforms, followed by the most recent House of Lords amendments to the Bill.

Proposed planning reforms 

The proposed planning reforms are wide-ranging in nature, including changes to how planning applications are determined, planning enforcement, increased protection for heritage assets, compulsory purchase and local plans. The headlines are: 

  • Determining planning applications: any conflicts between national development management policies (NDMPs) and the local plan will be resolved in favour of NDMPs. Material considerations must ‘strongly indicate otherwise’ for local planning authorities (LPAs) to depart from NDMPs and the local plan;
  • Environmental impact assessments: will be replaced with environmental outcome reports with an emphasis on environmental outcomes. Outcomes will be set following the public consultation on the approach to environmental assessments;
  • Amending planning permissions: new s.73B to vary planning permissions where the changes are not  ‘substantially different’ to the existing planning permission;
  • Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL): a new infrastructure levy to replace CIL, including powers to make regulations on how the infrastructure levy will interact with s106 obligations. More details will be known following the results of the public consultation on the infrastructure levy
  • Notices: duty on developers to serve commencement notices and provide progress reports. Powers for LPAs to serve notices requiring completion within 12 months, after which time the planning permission ceases to have effect; 
  • Enforcement: extending the immunity period for operational development to 10 years. Please see our article Potential changes to enforcement immunity for further details; 
  • Heritage: extending the requirement to have “special regard to the desirability of preserving or enhancing” of listed buildings to scheduled monuments, registered land and gardens, ship wrecks and world heritage sites. Increased protection for listed buildings, including temporary stop notices;
  • Street votes: empowering the Secretary of State to make regulations for street vote development orders. These would give local residents a vote on whether specified development is permitted;
  • Local plans: a new timetable and milestone check in process for local plan making. Neighbourhood priority statements will need to be considered when making new local plans and LPAs may adopt joint spatial strategies. Note: We anticipate amendments to the local plan making process and ‘soundness test’ will be set out following the results of the public consultations on reforms to the NPPF and plan-making reforms;
  • Neighbourhood plans: details within a neighbourhood plan may include setting out the amount, type, location, and timeframe for delivery of development, other land uses or development related policies and any infrastructure and affordable housing;
  • Housing: housing targets will be an advisory starting point and the requirement for local plans to include a 5 year supply for housing will be removed. Note: the revised NPPF will contain these details following the public consultation on reforms to the NPPF;
  • Development corporations: LPAs may propose areas to the Secretary of State for locally-led urban development corporations and new town development corporations to facilitate regeneration; 
  • Compulsory purchase: proposals to cap hope value and require certificates of appropriate alternative development to be obtained. For further information see our article on compulsory purchase reforms; and 
  • Planning data: powers for the Secretary of State to make regulations about written standards for planning data, making data publicly available and digitalisation. 

Other proposed reforms include constitutional arrangements for combined authorities, police and fire and rescue functions, powers for local authorities to bring empty premises back into use, piloting community land auctions, powers to shorten the determination time for nationally significant infrastructure applications and nutrient pollution standards for sewer plants. For information on the latest amendments to the Bill please see our article.

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

Sign up for legal insights

We produce a range of insights and publications to help keep our clients up-to-date with legal and sector developments.  

Sign up