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LURB in the Lords: The Bill enters its Report Stage

The Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill has finally entered report stage in the House of Lords after extensive debates in the committee. 

A tracked changed version of the Bill - showing the amendments made by the committee can be downloaded from the link below. 

The outcome of all of those debates:

  • 10,410 total changes
  • 2708 Replacements
  • 2438 Insertions
  • 1758 Deletions

Before you get too excited, a very large number of these amendments are either typographical or relate to clause numbering. Some of the more substantive changes, however, include:

  • Minor changes to the provisions regarding 'street votes' including:
    • a new provision stating that a Street Vote Development Order can only require s.106 Agreements to be entered into if they are also:
      • (a) is necessary to make the development specified in the order
        acceptable in planning terms,
      • (b) is directly related to the development, and
      • (c) is fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the
    • a requirement that any person who revokes a Street Vote Development Order gives reasons for doing so; and
    • adding a definition of 'financial assistance' into the text of the bill
  • A new ability for applications for "urgent crown development" to be made directly to the Secretary of State
  • Introduces an ability for the Secretary of State to  "correct any defect, error or misdescription" in a completion notice that is subject to an appeal "if satisfied that the correction will not cause injustice to the appellant or the local planning authority"
  • Significantly extends the ability of councils to refuse to determine planning applications from "a person who has previously made an application for planning permission for development of land all or any part of which is in the local planning authority’s area at the time the current application is made (“the earlier application”)" if that earlier application has not been implemented or is being built out unreasonably slowly.  Previously this only related to developments on the same development site.
  • Significantly strengthens the provisions in s.117 of the LURB that relate to the duty of Councils to provide plots for self and custom build housing.
  • Introduces a power for Planning Appeals to be conducted remotely - either wholly or in part.
  • Introduces an ability for 'prescribed bodies' to charge fees for advice in relation to planning applications - subjection to certain restrictions.
  • Introduces provisions into the LURB that allow Hope Value to be ignored in certain CPO proceedings; and
  • Introduces replacement provisions relating to High Street Rental Auctions

There have also been a number of amendments to Schedule 12 of the LURB, which deals with introduction of the Infrastructure Levy. 

The most significant of these amendments include:

  • The insertion of an exemption to IL for registered charities
  • giving greater powers to the Secretary of State to make regulations over the types of evidence that should be used by local authorities when setting their infrastructure levy rates
  • introduces a requirement for the examining inspector appointed by a charging authority to be someone who "in the opinion of the authority— (a) is independent of the charging authority, and (b) has appropriate qualifications and experience."
  • allows the Secretary of State to appoint someone to prepare a infrastructure levy charging schedule on behalf of a council that fails to do so within the requisite period.
  • Widens the scope of what can be funded through the Levy to potentially include maintenance, improvement or upgrading costs; and 
  • Includes provisions that potentially allow Levy receipts to be used to reimburse expenditure already incurred; be reserved for expenditure that may be incurred in the future; or applied (either generally or subject to limits set by or determined in accordance with the regulations) to administrative costs

In short, the LURB that has left the House of Lords Committee Stage is not the same one that entered it; although the changes are nowhere near as extensive as the debate may have initially suggested. 

The key question is what will the LURB look like when it returns to the Commons, at the end of the report stage.