The bill formerly known as the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill was scheduled for release in the last parliamentary session, after being announced in the Queen’s Speech in May.
Now, simply referred to as the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, it is belatedly presented as the first property Bill of the May government.
Key points include the dropping of both Land Registry privatisation and the establishment of a National Infrastructure Commission. Reform of neighbourhood planning rules, compulsory purchase orders and pre-commencement planning conditions are also important elements.
Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell used the launch of the Bill to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to housebuilding, saying: “We have already built more than 900,000 homes since 2010 and now this bill will help speed up delivery of the further new homes our country needs and ensure our foot is still firmly on the pedal.”
Inevitably, the omission of plans to bring forward the National Infrastructure Commission as a statutory body has raised eyebrows. For example, Councillor Martin Tett, Local Government Association housing spokesman said: “We hope the Government remains fully committed to the need for such a body and one that recognises the vital role of local authorities in delivering infrastructure for a modern economy and all communities.”
Many in the property industry and beyond will now be keen for further reassurances about the long-term approach to infrastructure delivery, in light of the amended bill.