On Tuesday 11 May 2021, the Queen delivered a ten minute speech in the House of Lords setting out a summary of the key statutes that Ministers intend to pass this year with an emphasis on a national recovery from the pandemic.

The briefing notes to the speech explain that a Planning Bill will be introduced to create “a simpler, faster and more modern planning system to replace the current one that dates back to 1947, and ensuring we no longer remain tied to procedures designed for the last century”. This Bill was the focus of last year’s Planning White Paper released on 6 August 2020 (see our blog here for more information) and attracted controversy during the consultation as well as leaving a lot of unanswered questions. The former Prime Minister, Theresa May, expressed concerns that the Bill may limit local involvement in the planning process.

The main elements of the Bill are expected to be:

  • Local plans will provide more certainty over the type, scale and design of development permitted on different categories of land: this is a reference to the proposal to allocate land into three zones - growth areas, renewal areas and protected areas;
  • The time it takes for developments to be consented will be significantly decreased: the introduction of the zoned approach is intended to streamline the process for reserved matters in growth areas and prior approvals for permitted development rights in renewal areas. The White Paper also proposed a new statutory timetable for developing and implementing local plans;
  • The existing systems for funding affordable housing and infrastructure from development will be replaced with a new more predictable and more transparent levy: the concern raised by many at the White Paper stage was that a hybrid system may need to be introduced, as s106 agreements are required to deliver specified mitigation which cannot otherwise be addressed by the use of financial contributions;
  • The framework for environmental assessments will be simplified;
  • The framework for locally led development corporations will be updated to ensure local areas have access to appropriate delivery vehicles to support growth and regeneration.

The Bill is intended to cover the whole of the UK, however the majority of the provisions will apply to England only. It is anticipated that the draft Planning Bill will be published in Autumn and then progress through Parliament. The detail of all the specific provisions will be of interest to all those involved in promoting and consenting schemes, so we will continue to keep you updated.