The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech holds planning reform at is heart. The purpose of the Bill is to “improve the planning system to give communities a louder voice, making sure developments are beautiful, green and accompanied by new infrastructure and affordable housing”.
New Infrastructure Levy
Of key importance to developers, a new local infrastructure levy will replace the Community Infrastructure Levy (“CIL”) except London Mayoral CIL. The Government policy paper published alongside the Bill, Levelling Up and Regeneration: further information explains that the new levy will be charged on the value of property when it is sold and applied above a minimum threshold. Levy rates and minimum thresholds will be set and collected locally to deliver the infrastructure that communities need. Local authorities will be able to set different rates within their area as with CIL. The rates will be set as a percentage of gross development value (“GDV”) rather than based on floorspace, as with CIL at present. This will allow developers to price in the value of contributions into the value of the land, allow liabilities to respond to market conditions and removes the need for obligations to be renegotiated if the GDV is lower than expected; while allowing local authorities to share in the uplift if gross development values are higher than anticipated. The government is committed to the Levy securing at least as much affordable housing as developer contributions do now. It will following consultation introduce a new ‘right to require’ to remove the role of negotiation in determining levels of on-site affordable housing. This is intended to rebalance the inequality between developers and local authorities by allowing local authorities to determine the portion of the levy they receive in-kind as on-site affordable homes. Sites “permitted before the introduction of the new levy will continue to be subject to their CIL and section 106 requirements”.
The Future of Section 106 Agreements
The future role of section 106 agreements will be set out in new regulations but section 106 agreements will be retained to help the delivery of the largest sites. The Government will require developers to deliver infrastructure integral to the operation and physical design of a site – such as an internal play area or flood risk mitigation. Planning conditions and narrowly targeted section 106 agreements will be used to ensure this type of infrastructure is delivered.
Other proposals include:
- A new duty on decision makers to make planning decisions in accordance with the development plan and national development management policies unless material considerations strongly indicate otherwise
- A requirement for local planning authorities to have design codes covering their entire areas
- Changes to planning enforcement and new measures to close loopholes preventing effective planning enforcement
- Street votes that would allow residents to propose development on their street and vote on whether it should be given planning permission
- A new system of Environmental Outcomes Reports will replace the EU processes of Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment
- Changes to make it easier for planning authorities to issue completion notices to developers to require them to complete their projects and commencement notices which would be required when a consented scheme starts on site
- Changes to the Local Plan system and Examination process
- Changes to the CPO system to enhance compulsory purchase powers
- Plans to fill vacant retail units through high street rental auctions
- A new neighbourhood planning tool called a “neighbourhood priorities statement”.
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