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Planning Headlines

We start with some news! Although for the second year running there has been uncertainty over the reopening of the neighbourhood plan support programme it now seems imminent. Last year it took until late July but Locality has updated its website so say that we’ll know more by the end of May. Fortunately, lots of councils and forums have managed to squirrel some money away for this rainy day so they wouldn’t get caught again. As soon as we know more, we’ll let everyone know.


And some no news! Although DLUHC is ploughing through making the statutory instruments and regulations to bring into force the provisions of last year’s Levelling Up & Regeneration Act, those provisions for neighbourhood plans have not reached the top of the in-tray yet. Sections 101 and 102 are the most important, especially the latter, which makes a significant change to the ‘basic conditions’. However, it has recently consulted on the ‘Street Votes’ regulations, most notably proposing that they are examined by PINS Inspectors, like Local Plans, not examiners.


Also in the in-tray are the proposed National Development Management Policies, new Local Plan making system, Neighbourhood Priority Statements and Environmental Outcome Reports (to replace SA/SEA and EIA). 


The Biodiversity Net Gain system is now fully in place. Natural England’s brochure is probably the easiest to read to understand it, not just when commenting on planning applications, but also for local councils looking to offer up some of their own land to sell offsetting credits. 


Another proposal of the Environment Act 2021 was local nature recovery strategies. More is gradually emerging on the purpose and scope of these strategies since the Government announced who would be responsible for producing them last year. Some have been talking to local councils to get their views on what these strategies should contain but it seems not enough is yet known on how they will interact with planning.


Finally, the Government is gradually consulting on the secondary legislation to implement the Levelling Up & Regeneration Act 2023. So far this has covered street votes and now locally-led development corporations. We are still waiting for news on the changes to the production of neighbourhood plans and local plans.

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