Published: Friday, 29th May 2015
Although there was no stand-alone planning bill promised in this week’s Queen’s Speech there is plenty to exercise planners and planning authorities in the government’s first legislative programme.
As expected there will be both a Housing Bill and a Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill.
Controversially the former will require housing associations to allow tenants to buy their homes as well as providing the statutory framework to support the delivery of 200,000 Starter Homes on brownfield sites.
Also in the Housing Bill will be provision for a statutory register of brownfield land, measures to simplify and speed up neighbourhood planning and a requirement for local authorities to support custom and self-builders as part of the administration’s Right to Build initiative.
In respect of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, ministers will provide the legislative muscle to deliver the pioneering Greater Manchester deal and future ones – both in large cities which choose to have elected mayors and in other places.
Also promised are more measures to expand the existing programme of Growth Deals. A proposed Bus Bill would provide the option for combined authority areas with directly-elected mayors to be responsible for the running of their local bus services.
The administration’s Energy Bill will remove the need for energy secretary consent for large onshore wind farms above 50 megawatts.
This will put local planning authorities back in the driving seat. The National Planning Policy Framework will be changed to give effect to the manifesto commitment that local communities should have the final say on planning applications for onshore wind farms.
Also listed in the Queen’s Speech is a High-Speed (London-West Midlands) Bill which would give the government deemed planning permission for the new high-speed rail link between London and the West Midlands. This includes CPO powers.
A Wales Bill would devolve powers to Welsh Ministers for the consenting of energy schemes both onshore and offshore of up to 350 megawatts capacity.
PM David Cameron called the legislative programme of more than 25 bills “challenging but doable; optimistic but realistic”.