16 novembre 2023
When the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA) finally received Royal Assent on 26 October, it laid out a banquet of potential change to planning, environmental, property and public sector law. But trying to understand just how tasty each morsel will be is challenging.
The government's flagship levelling up agenda is necessarily broad and deep. In the planning arena in particular Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) can expect a host of new processes and powers, and developers and landowners can meanwhile look forward to some dramatic changes as provisions in the Act are rolled out.
Just a few of the headline changes to the planning process are highlighted below.
In what could constitute a sea-change for planning in England and Wales, the local plan process will be streamlined with spatial Development Plans and a strategic focus on the development and use of land. Street Development Orders will allow residents to specify localised permissions for development. And then, with a higher status than local plans, and covering issues such as heritage, climate change and the greenbelt, new National Development Management Policies (NDMPs) will form a statutory standard against which all planning applications will be determined.
LPA design codes are meanwhile expected to help developers create "healthy, safe, beautiful, green, environmentally responsive, sustainable and distinctive places".
Developers are used to a situation where commencement notices can be required by s106 Agreements or the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) process, but now they will commit an offence if one isn't served before every development begins. If work doesn't start when anticipated, a second notice might be required, and it will be possible for the LPA to require annual progress reports on a development. Of course, the extent to which cash-strapped LPAs will actually be able to manage the administration of report delivery and review remains to be seen.
In the event that a developer wants to vary its existing planning permission, a new mechanism in s.73B allows for material (but not substantial) amendments. This will be a helpful alternative to submitting a wholly new planning permission or making “minor material amendments” under s.73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, but interpretation on what constitutes material in this context is likely to keep the courts busy.
LPAs will also have powers to refuse to determine a planning application where it deems the developer to have a history of not implementing permissions in the local area, or of being unreasonably slow when it comes to building out its developments.
The current four-year limitation period for planning enforcement will meanwhile be abolished – LPAs will instead have ten years to serve notice in the event of a planning breach. The intention here is to avoid more interventionist (and expensive) enforcement action: by serving new warning notices, LPAs might hope to encourage earlier resolution of breaches.
The Government's emphasis for LURA has long been efficiency and speed and it certainly has the potential to "speed up the planning system." But remember that most of the changes will not come into effect immediately. The Government still needs to work out a lot of detail to bring LURA to life. It must overhaul the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), embark on a comprehensive programme of secondary legislation, and undertake further consultation. And all of this takes time. Of course, the political landscape ahead is clearly far from certain but then a year in planning has always been a rather elastic thing.
To avoid shocks of later LURA 2023 implementation, do undertake comprehensive due diligence on your projects and portfolio now for potential pinch points and speak to us for guidance in relation to your specific plans.
Higher-risk buildings (HRBs)
par plusieurs auteurs