UK Construction Media

Examined: The Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill

News   •   May 19, 2016 12:34 BST

As part of the Queen’s Speech delivered to Parliament yesterday, the government outlined a number of radical changes that it hopes will tackle the housing crisis and ensure that the UK has the infrastructure in place to support its economic future.

The new measures were included within the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill and will seek to reform planning and give local communities the authority to control their own area to ensure more housing is created.

The government stated the aim of the Bill was to “support the economic recovery, and to create jobs and more apprenticeships, legislation will be introduced to ensure Britain has the infrastructure that businesses need to grow.”

In an effort to speed up the construction of new homes, local planning authorities will only enforce pre-commencement planning conditions where absolutely necessary. The government say that this will prevent the overuse and misuse of certain planning conditions and get projects underway more quickly.

Reforms will take place to compulsory purchases by making them “clearer, fairer and faster” for those involved in the process. It is hoped this will see an end to lengthy legal disputes as people look to prevent the progress of major schemes by clinging on to their property or holding out for more compensation.

The government stated the proposals would “consolidate and clarify over 100 years of conflicting statute and case law” and “establish a clear, new statutory framework for agreeing compensation, based on the fundamental principle that compensation should be based on the market value of the land in the absence of the scheme underlying the compulsory purchase.”

The Bill will see the Land Registry privatised in a move that is envisaged will see a more up-to-date, digital registration system that help those buying or selling their home.

The government will also hope to see a boost its coffers as capital receipt will be returned to the Exchequer.

Jeremy Blackburn, Head of UK policy at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said: ” Nobody is in any doubt that we are in the grip of a housing crisis, and it will take some radical reforms to ensure that we are delivering the housing and infrastructure that this country needs.

“To that end, there is much merit in the proposed Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill.”

Chief Executive of Shelter, Campbell Robb, said: “It’s promising to see the Government recognising that if they want to deliver on their promise of a million homes by 2020, overcoming the current barriers to house-building is essential.

“We will await the full details of the Bill, and hope that the Government will not only build more homes, but build homes that are genuinely affordable for people on lower incomes. Only this will solve the housing crisis for the long term.”

The Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill will also establish the National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory basis.

The Commission was originally established by Chancellor George Osborne last year and is tasked with providing the government with expert, independent guidance on infrastructure through outlining a clear strategy for the future of infrastructure to make sure the UK economy is fit for 2050.

The NIC is currently examining the next step in how to best serve the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor and developing the UK’s 5G communications infrastructure.

Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Lord Adonis welcomed news. He commented: “I strongly welcome the government’s announcement that it will make the National Infrastructure Commission statutory and independent. This is a major advance for infrastructure planning in Britain and will give the commission the power it needs to do its work.

“The commission looks forward to engaging with MPs and Peers ‎as the legislation advances to make this process as successful as possible.”

Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) president Sir John Armitt, who is a member of the National Infrastructure Commission, gave the government’s plans his support. He said: ““Setting the commission on a statutory footing formalises and upholds its role and purpose, this is an important milestone.”