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Important changes to the world of planning
30 November 2022

Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill

Many changes have been made across the Government over recent weeks, but the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, announced earlier this year, remains at a committee stage where it is being examined. However, since the recent changes at Government level, this has been extended and it is believed that potential major changes in legislation could still be made.

The Bill proposes the following outcomes to shake up the planning system:

  • The introduction of street voting systems to give residents the opportunity to propose new development and hold a vote on whether permission should be granted;
  • A requirement for design codes for local areas to inform planning decisions;
  • Amendments to compulsory purchase orders to support the regeneration of brownfield sites;
  • The simplification of Local Plans to speed up the planning process;
  • A strengthening of enforcement powers for local authorities;
  • The introduction of a new infrastructure levy payable by developers, charged on the value of property when sold by a developer, determined by rates and thresholds set at by local authorities;
  • The replacement of Environmental Impact Assessments and Strategic Environmental Assessments with a new Environmental Outcome Report;
  • The digitalisation of planning services to increase the use of data and digital services within the planning system.

In September, our former Prime Minister’s Government headed by Liz Truss announced their Growth Plan which proposes further changes to the planning system to quicken infrastructure projects and introduce ‘investment zones’. These investment zones will have deregulated planning rules and have the “potential to accelerate growth and deliver housing”. It is understood that Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council are in discussions with the Government to host investment zones, but we await further detail on these. It is unclear following the resignation of Liz Truss if Investment Zones are still on the agenda.

Enforcement Update – Ending of the 4 Year Rule

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill proposes the phasing out of the four year rule for taking enforcement action against breaches in planning control. At present, the time limits for which local planning authorities can take planning enforcement action against breaches in planning control are as follows:

  • 4 years for building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land.
  • 4 years for change of use of a building or part of a building for use as a single dwelling.
  • 10 years for all other development.

If the four year rule is phased out as is predicted, any breaches of planning shall need to demonstrate that they have been undertaken continuously (with robust evidence) for a period of 10 years or more to demonstrate the development is lawful (in planning terms).

Please be aware, if you have undertaken development that would fall into the four year category and the time limit has passed, now is the time to prepare and apply for a Lawful Development Certificate.

If you are concerned that you may be involved in a breach of planning or have been contacted by your local Enforcement Officer, please contact our planning professionals who would be happy to provide advice on how to remediate any issues.

Local Plan Update

Bedford Borough Council

The Council is still in the process of updating its Local Plan 2030 and replacing it with the Local Plan 2040. Following consultations in both 2020 and 2021, the next stage for the Local Plan 2040 is submission to the Planning Inspectorate for examination in early 2023.

Central Bedfordshire Council

The Central Bedfordshire Local Plan 2015-2035 was adopted in July 2021. The Council is currently undertaking a review of this Plan, which will be considered at committee in November 2022.

We are currently awaiting more information regarding a further Local Plan update, but a future consultation is expected in 2024.

Buckinghamshire Council

Buckinghamshire Council has just undertaken a wider call for sites exercise which ended on 11th September 2022. These sites will now be assessed as part of the Housing Economic and Land Availability Assessment. The Council must have a Local Plan by April 2025.

Milton Keynes Council

Milton Keynes has also recently undertaken a call for sites exercise and this concluded in April 2022. The next consultation on the emerging Plan is expected to take place in summer/autumn 2023.

For more information or to discuss your planning project, please contact Shannon Fuller.

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