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Reduced bill seeks to speed up neighbourhood plans

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The government has issued a Neighbourhood Planning Bill shorn of its expected commitments to privatise the Land Registry and give the National Infrastructure Commission statutory basis.

Both had been trailed in the Queen’s Speech, when the bill was due to be named ‘neighbourhood planning and infrastructure’.

The Bill as it now stands seeks to give ministers powers to limit the planning conditions that councils can impose on developments - for example to contribute to local infrastructure costs – and to simplify the neighbourhood planning process. It also seeks to clarify the compulsory purchase process.

Housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell said: “The prime minister has been absolutely clear that we need to build more homes and this bill is the first of a number of measures to deliver on that.

“We’re also going further than ever before to speed up neighbourhood planning which puts power in the hands of local people to decide where development gets built.”

LGA Housing spokesman Martin Tett (Con) said councils approved almost 90% of planning applications, totalling 253,000 homes last year.

“There is little evidence to suggest development is being delayed by planning conditions,” he said.

The LGA had opposed Land Registry privatisation, as it feared that information on local land charges would be collected at councils’ expense and handed over to a private company.

Cllr Tett said: “We are pleased that the government appears to have listened to our concerns about privatising the Land Registry.”

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the privatisation had been dropped to allow new ministers to reconsider the issue.

The same has happened to the question of formally establishing the National Infrastructure Commission, which will continue as an advisory body on projects judged nationally significant.



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