Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner comments on the various aspects of the new planning laws bill

Following the Queen’s Speech on 11 May 2021, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner comments on the various aspects of the new planning laws bill.

During the Queen’s Speech, PM Boris Johnson’s ‘levelling up’ agenda was set out, with initiatives such as a major planning bill to encourage housebuilding and plans for a post-Brexit state subsidy regime, which ministers claim will be more “nimble” and allow them to step in to save jobs.

Tim Hellier, Partner and Head of Planning and Zoning, UK, at international law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, comments:

“The Queen confirmed that new planning legislation will be introduced in this parliamentary session to modernise the planning system so that more homes can be built.  Last year’s Planning White Paper proposed a number of radical reforms to the planning system, largely to support housing delivery, with the most notable being the introduction of zonal planning, the refocussing of local plans and the introduction of a new infrastructure levy.  It has been confirmed that all of these elements will be carried forward into the new Planning Bill in some shape or form but the extent to which they may be watered down will become clearer with the publication of the Bill.  In terms of the implications of these changes the devil will, as always, be in the detail.”  

“The announcement that changes to local plans will be introduced so that they provide more certainty over the type, scale and design of development permitted on different categories of land is ambiguous as to whether this will in practice amount to the zonal system proposed by the White Paper, and if so, what the zones will be and how they will be allocated, or if this will be a more watered down version of that proposed.”   

“The announcement that the existing systems for funding affordable housing and infrastructure from development will be replaced with a new levy was trailed in the White Paper and will be a big change from the current system of delivery through section 106 negotiations.  Whilst a levy sounds attractive in theory, it will be difficult for it to accommodate the many nuances and variables in predicting development values and viability.  There has been very little detail published on how the levy will work and be applied in practice but transparency of data and the rate at which the levy is set will be key to its success.  We do not know at this stage whether this will be the end of s106 Agreements altogether, or whether the new system will retain them in some situations.” 

“The announcement that post-Brexit freedoms will be used to change and simplify the framework for environmental assessments for developments will attract close scrutiny.  These changes will be sure to attract fierce debate and opposition if there is any hint that the UK’s environmental standards will be weakened.”  

“The use of development corporations are a tried and tested delivery vehicle with a mixed success, but the current legal framework is complex and confusing.  If the announced reforms create a framework that is more modern and flexible, with development corporations given a fuller suite of powers, it could make this delivery model a more attractive option for both the public and private sector.   However, alongside the legislative reforms, new guidance, particularly on compulsory purchase will also be critical to set out the approach reformed development corporations must take to exercise their powers and secure development land in order to instil confidence.”

“It remains to be seen where the Planning Bill sits in terms of priority as the Queen announced 29 other bills that will be promoted during this term. If the Government’s plan to repeal the Fixed-term Parliaments Act proceeds in line with the Queen’s speech, it would give the Prime Minister the power to trigger a general election within five years of the previous one and allow it to (it is rumoured) focus on calling a May 2023 general election, so some of the bills announced are unlikely to reach the statute books. The amount of controversy within the Conservative party caused by the proposed planning reforms (even in watered down form) might see it shelved in this scenario.”


Kindly shared by Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

Main photo courtesy of Pixabay