The IHBC has welcomed the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act, which on 26 October received royal assent, with further takes by Government, Parliament and Historic England outlined below.
image for illustration: IHBC and Open Government Licence v3.0
… New laws.…to speed up the planning system….
IHBC Chair David McDonald said: ‘If one delves below the headlines around housing, there are certainly some potential improvements for heritage protection in the Act.’
‘The provisions relating to Temporary Stop Notices for unauthorised works to listed buildings and the removal of compensation in relation to Building Preservation Notices are particularly welcome.’
…disappointed that the amendment….requiring planning permission for the demolition for locally listed buildings, was not included…
‘At the same time, I’m disappointed that the amendment based on the recommendations from Historic England’s Saunders Report, to which the IHBC contributed, requiring planning permission for the demolition for locally listed buildings, was not included. The promotion in the Bill was ably led by the Victorian Society and promoted through the Lords by Baroness Andrews and others. However, on a more positive note, a commitment has been made to consult on this issue’.
New laws came into force… (26 October 2023) to speed up the planning system, hold developers to account, cut bureaucracy, and encourage more councils to put in place plans to enable the building of new homes.
These measures have become enshrined in law after the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill received Royal Assent.
The government is on track to meet its manifesto commitment of delivering one million homes over this Parliament, and earlier this year the Housing Secretary set out his long-term plan for housing and how we build the right homes in the right places.
The Levelling-up and Regeneration Act is at the heart of this long-term plan and will ensure new development is built more beautifully, produces more local infrastructure, like GP surgeries, schools and transport links, is shaped by local people’s democratic wishes, enhances the environment, and creates neighbourhoods where people want to live and work.
Building more homes in areas most in need is a key part of levelling up, and the Act will also deliver further measures to support regeneration in left-behind communities.
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 Act creates new laws that will transform our town centres by giving councils the powers to work directly with landlords to bring empty buildings back into use by local businesses and community groups, breathing life back into empty high streets.
And after a temporary relaxation of rules on outdoor seating for cafes, pubs and restaurants during the pandemic, the Act will officially make this a permanent part of our high street – helping local hospitality businesses to thrive.
The Act also cements our commitment to addressing inequality through levelling up missions, which include strengthening devolution by ensuring every area in England that wants a devolution deal can have one by 2030.
The government has so far invested £12.9 billion in levelling up projects across the UK – creating jobs, improving transport and protecting community spaces.
The measures in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act will support communities and local authorities to transform their local areas, complementing government investment in projects that will help regenerate left behind areas.
Measures in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act will:
- Put local people at the heart of development – making it easier to put local plans in place and requiring design codes that set out where homes will be built and how they will look. These plans will deliver more homes in a way that works for communities.
- 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.
The Act will ensure the homes we need are built where they are needed in urban areas rather than concreting over the countryside, which is why the Act will enhance our national network of beautiful, nature-rich protected landscapes that can be enjoyed right across the country.
It also secures powers to tailor environmental assessment to better reflect the current pressures on the environment and meet the nation’s environmental priorities. This cuts burdensome EU-red tape which held up assessments.
Royal Town Planning Institute Chief Executive Victoria Hills said:
“This legislation brings our profession one step closer to delivering plans and decisions that will make places better. Government must now engage frequently with planners to ensure that new regulations and policy changes enabled by this Act work as intended to get more homes delivered, attract more investment for growth and level up our country.”
The planning system already received a boost in the summer, with an additional £37.5 million for councils to bolster staffing – including a new £24 million to tackle backlogs, and £13.5 million as part of the long-term plan for housing that will upskill the sector with new planning super squads.
The government will publish its response to last December’s National Planning Policy Framework consultation in due course. This will set out how planning policies in England are expected to be applied to help deliver the right homes in the right places.
[Following agreement by both Houses on the text of the bill it received Royal Assent on 26 October 2023. The bill is now an Act of Parliament (law).]
A Bill to make provision for the setting of levelling-up missions and reporting on progress in delivering them; about local democracy; about town and country planning; about Community Infrastructure Levy; about the imposition of Infrastructure Levy; about environmental outcome reports for certain consents and plans; about regeneration; about the compulsory purchase of land; about information and records relating to land, the environment or heritage; for the provision for pavement licences to be permanent; about governance of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors; about vagrancy and begging; and for connected purposes.
Historic England writes: [Planning Bulletin October 2023]
…. Heritage-related provisions in the Act include:
- Historic Environment Records will now have statutory status to enable them to be an
- important cornerstone underpinning the new, digital planning system.
- Regard to certain heritage assets in exercise of planning functions.
- Temporary stop notices in relation to listed buildings.
- Urgent works to listed buildings: occupied buildings and recovery of costs.
- Removal of compensation for building preservation notices (which now includes requirement for local planning authority to consult Historic England).
- Clarification of the powers of parish councils to provide financial assistance to church or other religious bodies’ buildings (following some uncertainty of interpretation within the Local Government Act 1894).
- Blue Plaques across England.
Other provisions in the Act include (amongst other things):
- A requirement for local planning authorities to have an authority wide design code in place.
- The replacement of Section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) regimes with a new Infrastructure Levy.
- The introduction of National Development Management Policies (NDMPs) and the limiting of local plans to local policy matters, with a new framework for the latter’s preparation.
- Loss of the ‘duty to co-operate’ and time limits prescribed for different stages of plan preparation
- Replacement of Environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment by ‘Environmental Outcomes Reports’.
- New powers for local planning authorities to instigate auctions to take leases on vacant high street properties
- Changes to compensation for compulsory purchase orders to remove ‘hope value’ in some instances.
For more background see:
Planning Resource (Restricted)
The Victorian Society’s work on the Bill