Designed by Ian Parris © Nether Heyford Neighbourhood Plan
Local Government Association Briefing
Neighbourhood Planning Bill
House of Lords, Report Stage
23 and 28 February 2017
• Local government shares the Government’s ambition to increase housing supply. Local government wants to play a leading role in building new homes and we support measures that will enable councils to capture the value from increased land prices on land they acquire for development. The Bill could do more to help the Government achieve its ambitions on speeding up the delivery of new homes, particularly those that have already been granted planning permission.
• The recent Housing White Paper includes some encouraging proposals that reflect the recommendations in the LGA Housing Commission report, such as removing the proposed national starter homes requirement and increasing funding for planning departments.1 Importantly, it emphasises building the right homes in the right places to meet our wider ambitions for communities.
• Local government’s ambition is much greater than the White Paper, which lacks substantive measures to support councils in enabling housing growth, and to build the genuinely affordable homes for those at the sharp end of the housing crisis.
Local development documents (Clauses 7 to 12)
• We support amendment 6 led by Baroness Cumberlege, which would require the Secretary of State to uphold a local planning authority’s decision to refuse planning permission where development would be contrary to the local plan or neighbourhood plan.
• We are concerned about provisions that would give the Secretary of State new powers to intervene in the local plan-making and plan revision process. A sector-led approach that seeks to resolve the blockages will be more beneficial in the long-term than the imposition of a plan on an area. Therefore we support amendment 7, led by Lord Shipley and Baroness Bakewell, to leave out Clause 9.
• We support amendment 8 led by Lord Kennedy and Lord Shipley. If the Government goes ahead with the powers in Clause 9, planning authorities that can demonstrated they are in the process of developing a plan should be exempt from the exercise of default powers by county councils.
Planning conditions (Clause 13)
• Councils approve almost nine out of 10 planning applications and there is little evidence to suggest development is being delayed by planning conditions.
1 Final report of the LGA housing commission, 2016
• The NPPF, and the associated national planning practice guidance, already sets out expectations on use of planning conditions. There is no need for primary legislation to specify new duties on local planning authorities beyond this. As such we support amendments 11, 12, 13, 22, 24, 27, 28, and 34.
• Local planning authorities were under-funded by £195 million in 2015/16.2 The LGA had called for local discretion over planning fees to address this and so the commitment in the Housing White Paper to increase planning fees by 20 per cent is welcome. However, it will not fully meet the costs of planning functions and so we support amendment 36, led by Lord Beecham and Lord Kennedy.
• It is important that all areas with varying levels of housing growth should benefit from opportunities to access additional funding to respond to demand, and to seek to increase proactive delivery of additional homes.
Local development documents (Clauses 6 to 12)
Amendment 6 led by Baroness Cumberlege
Amendment 7 led by Lord Shipley and Baroness Bakewell
Amendment 8 led by Lord Kennedy and Lord Shipley
We are concerned about provisions that would give the Secretary of State new powers to intervene in the local plan-making and plan revision process. A sectorled approach that seeks to understand and resolve the blockages will be more beneficial in the long-term than the imposition of a plan on an area.
Clause 9 and Schedule 2 enable the Secretary of State to invite a county council to prepare a local plan where a district council had not done so. Councils have made significant progress with plan-making and, at the end of January 2017, almost 90 per cent of local planning authorities had a published Local Plan.3 Getting these plans in place requires significant time and effort and it is vital that the local plan process is not undermined by national policy changes.
Planning conditions (Clause 13)
Amendment 11 led by Lord Kennedy and Baroness Parminter
Amendment 12 led by Lord Kennedy and Lord Beecham
Amendments 13 and 22 led by Lord Kennedy and Baroness Parminter
Amendment 24 led by Lord Kennedy
Amendments 27, 28 and 34 led by Lord Kennedy and Baroness Parminter
An effective, democratically-led planning system is critical to good place-making that boosts growth and prosperity. Councils approve almost nine out of 10 planning applications and the number of homes granted planning permission by local authorities in the rolling year to 30 September 2016 was 277,000. This was up by 9 per cent on the previous year and was the highest figure since 2007.4
2 Local authority revenue expenditure and financing, 2015/16
3 Monitoring by DCLG and Planning Inspectorate
4 DCLG: Planning Applications in England July to September 2016
There is little evidence to suggest development is being delayed by planning conditions. Planning conditions provide a vital role by enabling planning permissions to go ahead which would otherwise be refused or delayed while the details are worked out. They can also save developers time and money as they do not need to invest in detailed submissions until after the principle of the development is granted.
The NPPF, and the associated national planning practice guidance, already sets out expectations on use of planning conditions. There is no need for primary legislation to specify new duties on local planning authorities beyond this.
There is a risk that these proposals may have a number of unintended consequences including the potential for increased number of planning application refusals and/or statutory timescales for processing planning applications being missed, if agreement cannot be reached on pre-commencement conditions between an applicant and the local planning authority. Restriction of the imposition of certain planning conditions by the Secretary of State could also reduce the ability of local planning authorities to include conditions that are necessary to address issues which might be specific to a local area or an individual development site. We would like the Bill to make clear that local authorities are still able to make necessary pre-commencement conditions on developers.
Amendment 36, led by Lord Beecham and Lord Kennedy
Local planning authorities were under-funded by £195 million in 2015/16.5 The LGA had called for local discretion over planning fees to address this, including through amendments to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill. The commitment in the Housing White Paper to increase planning fees by 20 per cent will provide additional resources to fulfil duties and deliver homes. It is important that all areas with varying levels of housing growth should benefit from opportunities to access additional funding to respond to demand, and to seek to increase proactive delivery of additional homes.
We support amendment 36 led by Lord Beecham and Lord Kennedy that would require the Secretary of State to consult local planning authorities on new statutory duties in respect of planning to ensure they have sufficient resources and funding.
Applying fees to appeals, allowing councils to compulsory purchase undeveloped land with permission, and to require starts on site within two years are all steps in the right direction. However, measures to hold councils to account through a delivery test will only succeed if the councils have greater powers to ensure development than those proposed in the White Paper.
5 Local authority revenue expenditure and financing, 2015/16