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Government officials expect the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, introduced to Parliament last May, to transform the planning system. The bill follows both the 2020 Planning for the Future White Paper, which proposed radical reforms not experienced since World War II, and the 2022 Levelling Up White Paper, an ambitious initiative aimed to reduce socioeconomic disparities between the South East and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Not without controversy, the bill has been years in the making. The 2019 General Election saw a landslide victory for the Conservative Party, a feat that was, in no small part, due to Boris Johnson’s promise of “levelling up every part of the UK – not just investing in our great towns and cities, as well as rural and coastal areas, but giving them far more control of how that investment is made.”
The changes suggested by Levelling Up will upend entrenched ways of working within the planning system. The introduction of a new Infrastructure Levy, for instance, will replace the Community Infrastructure Levy across the country, with the exception of Greater London. The levy will see rates set as a percentage of the final gross development value, rather than the current system based on floor space. Local authorities can set different rates within their respective areas.
A press release issued by the government asserts that the bill also gives local authorities and residents the scope to focus on issues of importance to their communities. Levelling Up’s reforms to the planning system are calibrated toward ensuring new development is “more beautiful, produces more local infrastructure, is shaped by local people’s democratic wishes, improves environmental outcomes and occurs with neighbourhoods very much in mind.” For instance, the bill will require local planning authorities to produce a design code for their areas and developers will be obliged to respect community preferences, underscoring the bill’s commitment to “empowering communities to make better places, restoring local pride and regenerating towns and cities.”
If you have any queries about how the Levelling Up and Regeneration bill will impact your community or future development plans, please contact the Stags Planning and Design team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01392 439046.