Growth and Infrastructure Bill given royal assent

The government's flagship Growth and Infrastructure Bill, which includes controversial proposals to make it easier for homeowners to build extensions to their properties without planning consent, has completed the legislative process.

The new Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 became law yesterday, following Royal Assent.

Amongst a raft of measures aimed at kick-starting economic growth, the Act allows the modification or discharge of the affordable housing elements of section 106 planning gain agreements in order to make developments more viable.

In a statement, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said these "unrealistic (affordable housing) conditions have meant no development, no regeneration and no community benefits" and the changes could "unblock 75,000 stalled homes".

The Act also contains the controversial measures to extend permitted development rights to allow single-storey extensions of up to eight metres. Earlier this week, an amendment to the legislation that requires neighbours to be consulted on home extensions that do not require planning permission was approved by the House of Commons.

It addition, the Act introduces measures to allow developers to take planning applications to the Planning Inspectorate where a council has "consistently failed to meet statutory requirements to consider applications on time".

The Act also removes the need for the communities secretary to approve local development orders (LDOs), which relax planning rules in specific areas, after they have been drawn up by town halls. It also includes measures to speed up the planning application process.

"This includes reducing the volume of extra paperwork required with a planning application; removing over-lapping development consent regimes that require multiple extra permissions from different government agencies", DCLG said.

The department added that this would "speed up development procedures with a simpler planning system that supports sustainable growth".

Planning minister Nick Boles said: "The Growth and Infrastructure Act is a major landmark for the coalition government. These new laws will reform our economy so it can boost investment, growth and jobs by streamlining a lot of confusing and overlapping red tape that all too often gets in the way of people’s everyday lives."