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Queens Speech 2016 - New Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill (UPDATED)

18 May 2016

Queens SpeechToday's Queens speech included a major new bill "To support the economic recovery, and to create jobs and more apprenticeship, legislation will be introduced to ensure Britain has the infrastructure and that businesses need to grow."

Ministers will introduce a Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill. 

We welcome the government’s continued commitment to housebuilding in England, although a greater recognition of the variety of factors affecting the rate of building new homes would give a clearer picture of all the challenges we face and need to get to grips with. Investing £100billion in key infrastructure projects is good news and crucially should be planned and coordinated in order to support economic growth and help ministers meet their housing ambitions

The Queens speech also included a Wales Bill, a Local Jobs and Growth Bill, and a Modern Transport Bill. Ministers have also highlighted action plans (non legislative briefs) for Home Building and the Northern Powerhouse. We are examining these announcements and considering their devolution implications.

Stephen Wilkinson, Vice-President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), pictured below, said:

Stephen Pic To Use“We welcome the government’s continued commitment to housebuilding in England, although a greater recognition of the variety of factors affecting the rate of building new homes would give a clearer picture of all the challenges we face and need to get to grips with. Investing £100billion in key infrastructure projects is good news and crucially should be planned and coordinated in order to support economic growth and help ministers meet their housing ambitions. We also look forward to seeing the detail of the plans for neighbourhood planning as we can, through RTPI/ Planning Aid England, bring a great deal of experience to any suggested reforms in this area.”

Key briefing points

On the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill, the government briefing says its ‘substantive provisions apply across England and Wales.’

  •  “Making the local government duty to support [neighbourhood] groups more transparent” in England must be properly resourced. LPAs are having to work hard to meet the government’s March 2017 deadline for local plans and often have no other staff to draw on. We note that staffing in local authority forward planning departments are down by 37% over 5 years and no measures have been proposed to provide sufficient resources for forward planning.
  • Whilst the policy of neighbourhood planning has been a great achievement as a way of achieving greater public engagement, it functions more effectively with a suitable strategic overview setting the broad locations and scale of growth.
  • The use of numerous conditions on planning applications is a complex area and needs consideration in the context of the whole development management process. We look forward to working with the government on its proposals  and will argue that these will need to be evidence based to be effective.
  • The RTPI welcomes continued attempts to make the compulsory purchase process fit for the modern age. The current CPO process serves nobody well. 
  • The Bill includes reference to measures to create more apprenticeships, to ensure Britain has the infrastructure that businesses need to grow. The RTPI launched its Technical Apprenticeship in 2015 with support from the public and private sectors. We continue to look for employers to extend this training scheme across the UK. We are also considering the feasibility of Degree apprenticeships.
  • The future of the Land Registry is of key importance. Its future must include the right to supply information to the  public  on the possibly controversial issue of land ownership. It is not only “people buying and selling their home” who have a vital interest in this information.
  • We welcome the government’s continued support of economic growth in the North of England through the Northern Powerhouse. Our work on the Great North Plan with IPPR North has revealed an appetite for thinking across the North on a variety of issues and also to ensure that the whole of the North is included.
  • We welcome the proposals for the devolution of energy and transport in the Wales Bill.

Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill

ActThe purpose of the Bill is to:

  • Support the Government’s ambition to deliver one million new homes, whilst protecting those areas that we value most including the Green Belt.
  • Deliver the homes and infrastructure that this country needs.
  • Transform the way we plan for major infrastructure projects in this country.

The main benefits of the Bill would be to:

  • Further empower local communities to plan the homes and infrastructure that they need. Drive more effective and efficient delivery of housing and infrastructure that local communities need, and make the process clearer, faster and fairer. Support long term economic growth through an overarching and independent assessment of the long-term infrastructure needs of the nation. This will help deliver the manifesto pledge to invest over £100 billion in our infrastructure over this Parliament (p.14).

The main elements of the Bill are:

Neighbourhood Planning

  • To further strengthen neighbourhood planning and give even more power to local people. · The new legislation would also strengthen neighbourhood planning by making the local government duty to support groups more transparent and by improving the process for reviewing and updating plans.

We welcome the government’s continued commitment to housebuilding in England, although a greater recognition of the variety of factors affecting the rate of building new homes would give a clearer picture of all the challenges we face and need to get to grips with. Investing £100billion in key infrastructure projects is good news and crucially should be planned and coordinated in order to support economic growth and help ministers meet their housing ambitions.We also look forward to seeing the detail of the plans for neighbourhood planning as we can, through RTPI/ Planning Aid England, bring a great deal of experience to any suggested reforms in this area.

Planning Conditions

  • To ensure that pre-commencement planning conditions are only imposed by local planning authorities where they are absolutely necessary. 18 May 2016 20 · Excessive pre-commencement planning conditions can slow down or stop the construction of homes after they have been given planning permission. · The new legislation would tackle the overuse, and in some cases, misuse of certain planning conditions, and thereby ensure that development, including new housing, can get underway without unnecessary delay.

Compulsory Purchase

  • To make the compulsory purchase order process clearer, fairer and faster for all those involved. · Including reform of the context within which compensation is negotiated – often a very significant and complex part of finalising a compulsory purchase deal. Our proposals, on which we have already consulted, would consolidate and clarify over 100 years of conflicting statute and case law. We would establish a clear, new statutory framework for agreeing compensation, based on the fundamental principle that compensation should be based on the market value of the land in the absence of the scheme underlying the compulsory purchase.

National Infrastructure Commission

  • To establish the independent National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory basis. · The Commission would provide the government with expert, independent advice on infrastructure issues by setting out a clear, strategic vision on the future infrastructure that is needed to ensure the UK economy is fit for 2050. · To unlock economic potential across the UK and ensure that growth and opportunities are distributed across the country, boosting productivity and competitiveness through high-quality infrastructure.

Land Registry

  • The new legislation would enable the privatisation of Land Registry, which would support the delivery of a modern, digitally-based land registration service that will benefit the Land Registry’s customers, such as people buying or selling their home. · It could also return a capital receipt to the Exchequer to help reduce national debt.

More information

Read the Queens speech in full.

Read the government's briefing note on the new Bills.

The Bill includes reference to measures to create jobs and more apprenticeships, to ensure Britain has the infrastructure that businesses need to grow.  The RTPI has already successfully launched its Technical Apprenticeship in 2015 with the support of both the public and private sector.  We continue to look for employers to extend this training scheme across the UK. The RTPI is considering the feasibility for Degree Apprenticeships.