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Queen’s Speech promises a neighbourhood planning and infrastructure bill

Published: Friday, 20th May 2016

21 new bills announced to help simplify planning rules and support the government’s ambition to deliver one million new homes…

The government this week promised a neighbourhood planning and infrastructure bill, one of 21 in the upcoming legislative programme set out in Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech.

This bill will support the government’s ambition to “deliver one million new homes, whilst protecting those areas that we value most including the Green Belt”.

Promised measures include moves to strengthen neighbourhood planning and action to tackle the use (and over-use) of planning conditions.

As expected there will be provisions to make the compulsory purchase regime “clearer, fairer and faster”. The proposals will consolidate and clarify over 100 years of conflicting statute and case law as well establishing a new statutory framework for agreeing compensation.

The bill will establish the Independent National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory basis and enable the privatisation of the Land Registry.

The Speech also signalled a local growth and jobs bill. This would allow local authorities to retain business rates and allow combined authority mayors to levy a supplement on business rates to fund new infrastructure projects provided they have the support of the local business community through the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

A digital economy bill which promises “new and simpler planning rules for building broadband infrastructure” was also highlighted in the Speech.

In addition the legislative programme will include a modern transport bill which will set out the framework for spaceports and the use of new technology to reduce congestion and encourage driverless cars.

There will be a bus services bill which will give elected mayors and local transport authorities the power to improve and franchise local bus services.

As expected there will be wales bill which will devolve powers to the National Assembly for Wales over energy and transport.

Welsh ministers will have the power over consenting all onshore wind schemes and all other onshore and offshore energy projects up to 350-megawatts in capacity. This would include the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project. Devolution of licensing onshore oil and gas exploration, including decisions on fracking, would also rest with the Welsh Government.

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Roger Milne