Queen's Speech: New Infrastructure Bill to contain further planning changes

An Infrastructure Bill containing a series of planning reforms intended to improve economic competitiveness was announced in today's Queen's Speech.

Queen's Speech: contained details of new Infastructure Bill (Parliamentary copyright: image reproduced with the permission of Parliament)
Queen's Speech: contained details of new Infastructure Bill (Parliamentary copyright: image reproduced with the permission of Parliament)

According to a briefing note published following this morning's Queen's Speech, the Infrastructure Bill will "bolster investment in infrastructure and reform planning law to improve economic competitiveness".

The Bill will bring forward reforms to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) planning regime, according to the briefing note.

According to the note, the Bill would "simplify the process for making changes to Development Consent Orders (DCOs) by speeding up non-material changes to a DCO, and allowing simplified processes for material changes".

The Bill would also allow the examining authority to be appointed immediately after an application has been accepted and for the panel to comprise two inspectors, "speeding up the process and saving money", the note added.

The Department for Communities and Local Government announced details of the NSIP changes in April following a review of the Planning Act 2008 process.

The briefing note also said that the Bill would:

- allow certain types of planning conditions to be discharged upon application if a local planning authority has not notified the developer of their decision within a prescribed time period.

- permit land to be transferred directly from arms-length bodies to housing and regeneration quango the Homes and Communities Agency.

- ensure that future purchasers of land owned by the Homes and Communities Agency and the Greater London Authority will be able to develop and use land without being affected by easements and other rights and restrictions suspended by the agency.

- support the development of gas and oil from shale and geothermal energy by clarifying and streamlining the underground access regime. The Department of Energy and Climate Change published details of plans to change trespasss laws to allow fracking firms to drill under homes without the owner's permission for consultation last month.

The briefing note also said that, in the next session, the government will introduce secondary legalisation to "allow for a locally supported garden city to be built in Ebbsfleet, backed by an urban development corporation".

It added that the government will "help speed up the time taken for sites granted planning permission to be built out, including reforming unwieldy procedures and conditions attached to existing planning permissions, whilst protecting environmental safeguards".

And it said that the government will amend secondary legislation to "further reform change of use rules to make it easier for empty and redundant buildings to be converted into productive use, supporting brownfield regeneration and increase the supply of new homes".


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