Queen’s Speech: Development industry welcomes measures in Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill

18 May 2016

Policy area: Planning

The British Property Federation has welcomed the Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill announced today in the Queen’s Speech.

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, comments on separate provisions within the Bill:

  • To strengthen neighbourhood planning by making the local government duty to support groups more transparent and by improving the process for reviewing and updating plans.

“We are very pleased to see this included within the Bill, as neighbourhood planning has proved to be an extremely effective tool for ensuring that development is brought about in a way that is supported by local communities and meets their needs. It is critical that this operates in tandem with the government’s pressing agenda to deliver new housing.”

  • To ensure that pre-commencement planning conditions are only imposed by local planning authorities where they are absolutely necessary.

“The planning system is often cited as one of the main barriers to development, and pre-commencement planning conditions are an extra burden placed on developers which ultimately slows down the whole process. Whilst we welcome the change, we would like to see more detail on how this is going to be enforced and how already-stretched local authorities will cope. Conditions for development should be agreed as part of the pre-application process, and we would hope that the planning process is not made over-complicated to compensate.”

  • To make the compulsory purchase order (CPO) process clearer, fairer and faster for all those involved.

“Over the past year, Government has pushed the infrastructure agenda hard, which is something that we welcome given that infrastructure and development and regeneration projects go hand in hand. Today's annoucement shows a further commitement to that cause as CPO is an essential tool for ensuring the success of such schemes, as well as bringing forward major infrastructure projects, and it is good to see Government committed to ensuring that the system is as efficient as possible.”

  • To establish the independent National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory basis.

“Again, to see a firm commitment to driving the infrastructure agenda forward by making the NIC a statutory body, is extremely welcome. We would be interested to see the Treasury’s response to its consultation on structure and governance of the NIC earlier this year, as there are a number of questions that need answering, particularly around who will be on the commission and how it will continue to be independent once statutory.” 

  • To enable the privatisation of Land Registry, which would support the delivery of a modern, digitally-based land registration service that will benefit the Land Registry’s customers, such as people buying or selling their home.

“The government is still consulting on the privatisation of the Land Registry, but today’s announcement implies that it is going ahead. Privatisation of the Land Registry could hold important consequences for the commercial property industry, as security of title is critical to the real estate market. It is hugely important that any changes to the way that the Land Registry is run do not affect this security so that investors can be confident that they own their assets and that if for whatever reason there has been an error in registering their title then they will receive adequate compensation.”