New planning laws come into force with Levelling Up Bill

As the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill received Royal Assent last week, a raft of new measures came into force which the government says will “put local people at the heart of development”.  It says the Act will:

  • Boost local services – requiring developers to deliver vital infrastructure. This will put an end to lifeless edge-of-town developments with no community assets and ensure developers deliver the schools, doctors surgeries and public services communities need and expect. Further details on these measures will be set out shortly.  
  • Rebalance the housing and land markets – giving local councils the power to increase council tax on empty homes and reforming compensation for compulsory purchase orders by removing ‘hope value’ where justified.  
  • Encourage developers to get building – giving communities updates on the progress of development and giving councils the chance to consider slow build-out rates when approving planning.
  • Bring high streets back to life - giving councils the powers to work directly with landlords to bring empty buildings back in to use by local businesses and community groups through high street rental auctions. It will also make it faster for local authorities to give hospitality businesses permission to use outdoor seating.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP said: 

“Our landmark Levelling-Up and Regeneration Act will deliver more homes for communities across the country and unleash levelling up in left-behind places.

“It will deliver revitalised high streets and town centres. A faster and less bureaucratic planning system with developers held to account. More beautiful homes built alongside GP surgeries, schools and transport links, and environmental enhancement. Communities taking back control of their future with new powers to shape their local area. And our long-term levelling up missions enshrined in law.

“This Act delivers on the people’s priorities, creating new jobs, new opportunities and a brighter future for the UK.”

The government says the Bill receiving Royal Assent means it is on track to meet its manifesto commitment of delivering one million homes over this Parliament, claiming its long-term plan for housing will see the “right homes” being built “in the right places”.

However, RSN Chief Executive, Kerry Booth says she has concerns around the final wording:

“The Act talks about making sure the homes we need are “built where they are needed in urban areas rather than concreting over the countryside”.  It goes onto say “the Act will enhance our national network of beautiful, nature-rich Protected Landscapes that can be enjoyed right across the country.”  Whilst we welcome the protection of green-spaces, this is an urban-centric solution to a rural problem. 

“Rural areas also need the right homes in the right places to ensure these communities and their economies can thrive.  If we don’t build more affordable homes in rural areas, they will become deserts of second homes for the rich.  But when they get there, there will be no shops, pubs or cafes open for them to use.  There will be no buses or taxis to get around and they won’ be able to charge their electric cars. 

“Perhaps then the people in London who make these policies will understand that rural areas are more than just pretty countryside.”


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