We seem to have been talking about the LURB (the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill) for an awfully long time. It’s now an Act (the Levelling Up & Regeneration Act / LURA), but we are left wondering quite what it will mean in practice – and when.
A milestone has been passed, but it’s not a fireworks moment. Much of what the Act empowers requires secondary legislation, and the timing of that – and even whether it will be enacted before the general election – is unclear. Furthermore, the Act is supposed to be the precursor to a revised NPPF, but there’s no clear indication as to when that will appear.
However, the writing is on the wall and there are some things that us planning strategists need to consider – in particular:
- The new s73B, which should make it easier to vary planning permissions.
- The power for LPAs to refuse applications from developers who have not previously implemented planning permissions or who have implemented them unreasonably slowly.
- Immunity for enforcement action being raised to ten years in all cases (rather than four in many instances currently).
- Introduction of Street Votes.
Changes to CPO compensation rules where large amounts of affordable housing are to be delivered.
Longer term, there will be Environmental Outcomes Reports (to replace EIAs); the Infrastructure Levy (to replace CIL); and – if it ever survives sober scrutiny – Community Land Auctions.
Separately from the LURA, 10% Biodiversity Net Gain is about to become a statutory requirement.
Government is not handling its introduction efficiently, and it is still not entirely clear when the requirement will bite. However, it appears it will bite on major development applications (10+ homes, 1000sqm+ floorspace, 0.5ha/1.0ha+ site area) which are submitted from 1 February onwards, and on small schemes from the end of April. Development Consent Orders will follow sometime in 2025. We must assume that the critical moment is when the application is validated – which should be a matter of days after the application is submitted, but which in practice is often weeks weeks (and sometimes months) after submission.
Plenty of food for thought, and if possible, planning applications should be submitted this side of Christmas, rather than left to January.