Seven things the bill will change on the ground

What changes will the Growth and Infrastructure Bill make?

  • The bill would introduce a new test of reasonableness to the amount of information required in support of a planning application. The bill states that information requests must be reasonable, having regard to the nature and scale of the proposed development.
  • New rules are intended to make it easier for landowners to prevent town and village green applications. The bill would end people's rights to apply to register land as a village green if the application seemed to come in response to a "trigger event", such as a planning application in relation to the land or a development plan identifying the land for development.
  • Clauses would enable variation in planning consents issued under the old energy infrastructure system. Bill clauses 17 and 18 provide powers to vary consents for energy infrastructure projects once granted under the Electricity Act 1989.
  • Councils will have more local discretion over when they review planning conditions for mineral sites. At present, reviews of minerals permissions must be made every 15 years. But the bill would give authorities discretion over when reviews are required, subject to a provision that the interval between any two reviews cannot be less than 15 years.
  • The bill would broaden the power of the communities secretary to recover his own costs from parties at planning appeals, for example in a situation where an inquiry or hearing has been arranged but does not end up taking place.
  • Draft "stopping up" orders to allow highways to be closed or diverted to enable development will be able to be published at the planning application stage. At present, in most cases, applicants must wait for permission to be granted before they can apply for stopping up orders.
  • The bill would relax rules on the disposal of land held by councils for planning purposes. Clause 6 of the bill would allow the government to define a whole category of land held by authorities that can be disposed of for less than best price, rather than having to decide each case individually.

    What the Growth and Infrastructure Bill doesn't spell out

  • Powers to allow applicants to make their application direct to the communities secretary where a local planning authority has a "very poor record of deciding applications" feature in the bill. But details of the criteria for selecting these authorities have yet to be set out.
  • Clause 21 of the bill extends the Planning Act 2008's procedure for the determination of nationally significant infrastructure projects so that this can be used for business or commercial projects. But more precise details of what types of projects are to be included are not set out in the bill.
  • Clause 5 of the bill includes provisions to make it easier for developers to renegotiate affordable housing obligations that mean development is "economically unviable". But the bill doesn't explain what this phrase means.

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