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The Neighbourhood Planning Bill 2016-17 was considered during eight sittings of the Public Bill Committee between 18 and 27 October 2016. The Bill’s Report Stage and Third Reading will be held on 13 December 2016. Full background on the Bill, and its provisions as originally presented, can be found in Library Briefing Paper Commons Library analysis of the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, 28 September 2016.

The aims of the Bill

The Government’s two “key aims” of the Bill are to:

  • Help identify and free up more land to build homes on to give communities as much certainty as possible about where and when development will take place; and
  • To speed up the delivery of new homes, in particular by reducing the time it takes to get from planning permission being granted to building work happening on site and new homes being delivered.

Government amendments

A number of Government new clauses were added at Committee Stage in relation to development documents (local plan) making:

  • New clause 4 enables the Secretary of State to direct two or more local planning authorities to make a joint local plan;
  • New clause 3 introduces a requirement for each local planning authority to identify the strategic priorities for the development and use of land in their areas;
  • New clause 7 introduces a requirement for local plans to be reviewed at regular intervals;
  • New clause 5 and new schedule 1 enable the Secretary of State to invite a County Council to prepare a local plan where a district council had failed to do so.
  • New clause 6 enables data standards for local development schemes and documents to be set by Government.

All of these new clauses were agreed without being pushed to division. Throughout the Committee stage the Government indicated that a number of new planning policies would be included in a forthcoming Housing White Paper, to be published later this year.

Opposition amendments

The most contentious clause in Committee was clause 7. It provides that pre-commencement planning conditions can only be used by local authorities where they have the written agreement of the developer. The Opposition disagreed with the rationale for the clause and argued that there was little evidence to support the suggestion that pre-commencement planning conditions delayed development. The shadow Minister moved an amendment to ensure that local authorities could still require “necessary” pre-commencement conditions for developers. The amendment was pushed to a division, as was the question on whether the clause should stand-part of the Bill. The amendment was defeated and the clause-stand part was agreed.

A number of Opposition new clauses were also discussed, including new clause 15 on allowing local authorities to have more discretion on setting their planning fees, which was defeated on division. New clause 14 proposed a Government review of permitted development rights granted since 2013, which was also defeated on division.

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