Last edited 14 Dec 2020

Neighbourhood Planning Bill 2016-17

On 7 September 2016, the Neighbourhood Planning Bill 2016-17 was introduced into Parliament to support housebuilding and give more say about developments to local people.

Announced by the Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell, the Bill is intended to speed up and strengthen the neighbourhood planning process by simplifying the revision of plans in response to changes in circumstances and to ensure that plans come into force more quickly once approved.

In addition, the compulsory purchase order process will be simplified, making it clearer, fairer and faster. The government believe that at present the process can be unnecessarily uncertain and complex, based on a patchwork of statute and case law.

Other measures are intended to ensure that planning conditions are only used where strictly necessary, so that once permission has been granted, construction can begin as soon as possible.

Gavin Barwell said: “We have already built more than 900,000 homes since 2010 and now this Bill will help speed up delivery of the further new homes our country needs and ensure our foot is still firmly on the pedal. We’re also going further than ever before to speed up neighbourhood planning which puts power in the hands of local people to decide where development gets built.”

However, the Bill, originally described as a Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill has received criticism for watering down or omitting several key elements previously announced in the Queen's speech in May 2016. These included; giving the National Infrastructure Commission a statutory basis, privatisation of the Land Registry and protection of the Green Belt.

A consultation was launched, seeking views on detailed regulations to implement the neighbourhood planning provisions in the Bill:

During the second reading of the Bill in the House of Lords In January 2017, members expressed concern about the proposed measures for restricting pre-commencement planning conditions. Baroness Young of Old Scone asked whether there “...really is solid and independent evidence – not just evidence given by developers – that pre-commencement conditions slow down their delivery of housing development”. Lord Kennedy said, “It is not very sensible for the government to seek to address issues which are generally accepted as not being a problem while failing to address issues that are.”

More than 30 amendments were tabled during the first report stage of the Bill in the House of Lords on 23 February 2017.

In 15 March 2017, amendments were either accepted or withdrawn, and the Bill was passed by the House of Lords.

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