Government drops infrastructure element from neighbourhood planning bill

The government has published a new Neighbouring Planning Bill, dropping infrastructure elements within the legislation which had been announced in the Queen's Speech.

Housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell
Housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell

In May, the Queen’s Speech announced a new Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill which would contain measures to further strengthen neighbourhood planning and establish the National Infrastructure Commission "on a statutory basis".

But the bill published today does not include any reference to infrastructure.

A statement issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government ahead of the bill's publication said that the bill would "speed up and strengthen the popular neighbourhood planning process by simplifying how plans can be revised as local circumstances change and ensure that plans come into force sooner once approved by local people".

The statement said that there will also be "a simplifying of the compulsory purchase order process to make it clearer, fairer and faster".

DCLG said that measures in the bill "will clarify the process which is currently based on a patchwork of statute and case law and make the system fairer for all parties".

The statement added that further measures in the bill "will ensure that planning conditions which require developers to take action before work starts are only used where strictly necessary, but in a way that ensures important heritage and environmental safeguards remain in place so that once a developer has planning permission they can get on and start building as soon as possible."

Gavin Barwell, the housing and planning minister, told Planning that the government had taken "a collective decision that it wanted a narrower bill", retaining the planning elements but dropping the sections relating to the National Infrastructure Commission and the privatisation of the Land Registry.

Asked whether the government still intended to put the National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory basis, Barwell said the Treasury was leading on the issue.

But he questioned the notion that statutory status for the commission was required for it to create certainty about infrastructure. "Actually I think it is doing that already," he said.

The bill can be read here and explanatory notes can be found here. 

This is a breaking news story and its content will be updated as further details emerge.

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