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The Direct Planning (Pilot) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Lord Lexden (Conservative). The Bill received its first reading in the House of Lords on 3 June 2015 and is scheduled to receive its second reading on 20 November 2015.

The Bill would require the Secretary of State to make regulations to establish pilot schemes to enable “residents” (ie those acting as neighbourhood forums or a community organisation within designated areas) to participate “more directly in developing planning policy” (clause 1(1)). Residents would develop “form-based design codes” (ie a set of rules), according to which planning permission may be granted within the area to which the code applies (clause 1(2)(a)). These would define how streets and buildings would look and function. A £2 million fund would cover any “reasonable” expenditure incurred by residents in carrying out the pilot schemes (clause 1(4)), and residents would be able to bid for grants from the fund under a rolling application, up to total individual grants of £100,000 (clause 1(5)). Local authorities could allow the full disbursement of money allocated for local planning purposes only when they received evidence that local planning authorities had provided support to neighbourhood forums and community groups; in the absence of such evidence, five percent of the planning budget would be distributed as a rolling grant to support such local groups.

The Bill provides that the form-based design codes must be developed by “charrette” and approved by referendum of the residents. A “charrette” is defined in the Bill as a “collaborative series of meetings conducted over a period of less than four weeks between those who have an interest in development in a designated area including but not limited to developers, architects, residents, local businesses and community groups and unincorporated associations, for the purpose of developing and agreeing to the master plan for a particular development” (clause 2(5)). A charrette would be conducted for—but would not be limited to—estate regeneration programmes and developments which required an Environmental Impact Assessment (clause 2(1)). Any expenditure incurred by virtue of conducting a charrette relating to an estate regeneration programme would be met by the local authority or registered social landlord who intended to undertake the development (clause 2(4)). Clause 6 provides that the substance of the Bill would be repealed five years from the day it became an Act.


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