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The Neighbourhood Planning Bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 14 December 2016 and is scheduled for second reading on 17 January 2017. It completed report stage in the House of Commons on 13 December 2016 and was passed at third reading without a division the same day. The Government describes the Neighbourhood Planning Bill as having two primary aims:

  • 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.

At the Bill’s second reading in the House of Commons, Teresa Pearce, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, stated that the Bill did not “appear at first glance to be a controversial one” and included elements that the Labour Party supported. However, she expressed particular concern about the Bill’s proposed reforms to pre-commencement planning conditions which, under the Bill, would normally require the written agreement of the planning applicant. There was a division on an opposition amendment on this issue during committee, which was defeated. The Government introduced a series of new clauses on development documents which were added during the Bill’s committee stage. At report stage, the subject of pre-commencement planning conditions was again raised and was the subject of a further division on an opposition amendment, which was defeated. There was also a division on an opposition amendment on removing permitted development rights to allow the change of use of pubs, which was defeated. Other non-government amendments discussed at report stage (which were not divided upon or added to the Bill) included a new clause on the clustering of betting shops, new clauses on consultation between planning authorities and neighbourhood planning bodies and the issue of five-year land supply for housing, the housing needs of disabled and older people and the Bill’s compulsory purchase provisions, amongst others. The Government made a number of technical amendments to the Bill.

On 12 December 2016, before report stage on the Bill, Gavin Barwell, Minister for Housing and Planning, made a written statement on neighbourhood planning. This included directions on when Local Plans should be considered out of date under the National Planning Policy Framework and on the issue of five-year land supply for housing. These issues were subject to non-government amendments at the Bill’s report stage. The Minister also announced that the Government would be publishing a white paper on housing in “due course”.

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