The planning element of the Localism Bill seeks to make the planning system clearer, more democratic and more effective. On paper this seems like a good idea, but is it actually making things more complicated?
Regional Strategies scrapped
These strategies set out where new development was needed throughout the country, including setting housing targets for different areas. These figures were set nationally and the current coalition Government felt that local communities had limited opportunity to influence these figures.
With such a shortage of housing, scrapping the housing targets set out in Regional Strategies surely represents a step back and erects a veil of uncertainty. The housing projections guided the strategies in Local Development Frameworks so this brings into considerable doubt the soundness of local authority plans.
Neighbourhood planning seeks to give local communities opportunities to influence the future of the places where they live. Of particular note is the emergence of Neighbourhood Plans. These plans will allow local communities to draw up development plans enabling the provision of new homes and businesses in areas they want. The plans must be drawn up in line with national planning policy and the Local Authorities development plan.
Changes to enforcement powers
The Act will seek to strengthen the powers of planning authorities in tackling those who abuse the planning system. Of particular note is enforcement action relating to the concealment of new developments. The Act allows Local Authorities to pursue an enforcement notice at any time after they had become aware of a breach. This measure intends to restart the enforcement clock where a breach of planning control has been concealed.
The area of concealment is likely to be controversial as it will be difficult to ascertain what exactly is classed as concealment. Additionally, past concealment from a previous owner or vendor will be passed on to the new property owner – this could be yet another way to stifle an already flagging property market as confidence drops to a new low.
If you would like to know how the Localism Bill will impact on you or your business then please give one of our representatives a call or email us at Localism@plainview.co.uk.