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Significant changes to the levelling-up bill

  • by JW


rules on nutrient neutrality in rivers…

“special regard” to developments’ climate impact…

scrutiny on any new national planning policy…


LURB: What’s it all about?

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill was published in May 2022 and it is “huge”, says the Local Government Association – which will be an immediate turn-off for most, but here’s a friendly introduction from the LGA:

The Planning Advisory Service team have done an initial run-through of the planning parts of it – expect to see some updates to this as our thoughts develop… The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill (LURB) is best thought of as the scaffolding for a new planning system. The Bill itself is not easy to read or to understand…

The UK Constitutional Law Association talks about the “legal uncertainty”:

The Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill (‘LURB’), currently before the House of Lords, aims to facilitate the government’s levelling-up agenda, which was set out in the ‘Levelling-Up the United Kingdom’ White Paper in 2022. At 222 clauses and 18 schedules, full consideration of the Bill (as amended in Committee, 24th May 2023) would require more than a blog post, but its legislative aims can be somewhat succinctly expressed…

But for a really user-friendly guide, there’s an excellent web resource giving “coverage and analysis of the ongoing planning reform and the passage of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill” from the planning consultancy Lichfields.

Significant amendments to LURB:

However, the Lords have just “inflicted defeats on levelling up Bill” – as reported by the LocalGov news website:

The Government faces a race against time to get its flagship levelling up Bill into law after peers inflicted a string of defeats. Ministers have a tight deadline to get the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill passed ahead of the King’s Speech in early November, with dwindling Parliamentary time reduced due to the three week break for the party conferences and squeezed further by the Government’s need to add in new rules on nutrient neutrality.

There has indeed been a lot of interest in the the new rules on nutrient neutrality [also from the LocalGov site: ‘Against nutrient neutrality rules’ and ‘Time to fight Government water plans’].

But there have been other ‘defeats’ this week for the government on its flagship LURB.

This is what Cycling UK has to say as “Peers vote for climate-friendly planning laws“:

The good news is that one of the LURB amendments passed by the Lords, despite government opposition, will require national and local government to “have special regard” to climate considerations at every stage in the planning system, from national policy-making to decisions on specific new developments. It is one of several amendments that Cycling UK and its partners in the Better Planning Coalition (BPC) have worked hard to get into the bill. It would help to ensure that new developments are located and designed to prevent or avoid the risks of flooding, promote energy efficiency, use green building materials, support the protection and regeneration of woodlands and – crucially from Cycling UK’s perspective – avoid entrenching car dependence.

And this is what the CPRE has to say, hailing a “win for local communities as a scrutiny amendment is passed in the Lords”:

In a huge step forward for local communities, the House of Lords on Monday voted through an amendment that ensures both the public and parliament have a say on any new national planning policy created by the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (LURB). This new type of national planning policy – National Development Management Policies (NDMPs) – has caused major concerns since its introduction. Left unchecked, NDMPs represented a possible threat to local democracy (which you can read about in our explainer). This centralisation of power had the potential to strip local communities of their say on major planning issues that affect all of us, from housing and wildlife to the Green Belt.