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Call for written evidence: Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill

13 June 2022

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Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament?

If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill.

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration.

The Public Bill Committee will scrutinise the Bill line by line. The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on Tuesday 21 June and the Committee is scheduled to report by Tuesday 20 September. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 20 September. You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible.

Aims of the Bill

The Government published a press release on 11 May 2022 setting out the aims of the Bill. It also published a policy paper on 11 May 2022 entitled Levelling Up and Regeneration: further information.

The Bill would make a range of legislative changes associated with the Government’s “levelling up” agenda, which intends to reduce geographical, economic, social and health inequalities. Many of these changes, though not all, were foreshadowed in the February 2022 White Paper Levelling Up the United Kingdom. The main measures that the Bill would introduce are:

  • Statutory requirements regarding the levelling-up ‘missions’. These would create a statutory requirement for the Government to report to Parliament on progress against the twelve missions set out in the Levelling Up White Paper;
  • New ‘combined county authorities’ (CCAs) to act as recipients of powers and funding under devolution deals within England. These are alternative legal structures to the combined authorities and mayoral combined authorities (MCAs) that exist in some parts of England. Some of the legislative provision for combined authorities and MCAs would also be altered by the Bill, to bring them into line with the proposals for CCAs in the Bill;
  • The introduction of an infrastructure levy to be implemented by English local authorities, intended to replace the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and most developer contributions to local infrastructure via ‘section 106 agreements’;
  • Changes to compulsory purchase to support regeneration. Currently, local authorities may use compulsory purchase to achieve the objective of promoting or improving the economic, social or environmental wellbeing of their area. This definition would be expanded, to specify that “improvement” includes regeneration;
  • Powers to auction tenancies in high street shops. Local authorities would be able to “designate” high streets or town centres that are important to the local economy, then serve a letting notice on landlords of premises in those areas which have been vacant for the past year (or over a year from the previous two years). If the landlord then fails to rent out or make use of the premises, the local authority can arrange for a rental auction and require the landlord to rent out the premises to a particular tenant;
  • Requirements for local authorities to produce environmental outcomes reports;
  • Requirements to make available certain information regarding land ownership, to increase the transparency of ownership of, and interests held in, land.

The bill also includes extensive changes to the planning system, to:

  • Facilitate the digitisation of the planning system, by setting data standards;
  • Make the planning system plan-led. Local planning authorities (LPAs) would be required to make all planning decisions in accordance with their development plan (and any national development management policies) unless material considerations strongly indicated otherwise. Any conflict between the development plan and a national development management policy (designated as such by the Secretary of State) would have to be resolved in favour of the national development management policy; • Require LPAs to draw up a local design code;
  • Require Local Plans, minerals and waste plans, and (as far as appropriate) neighbourhood plans to contribute to the mitigation of, and adaption to, climate change;
  • Amend provisions for neighbourhood planning, by (amongst other things) listing the policies and requirements that a neighbourhood plan may include. A neighbourhood development order would be prohibited from preventing housing development proposed in the area’s development plan;
  • Abolish local authorities’ duty to cooperate with prescribed bodies with regard to plan making, which would be replaced by a requirement to assist with certain plan making;
  • Extend the current statutory requirement for LPAs to have special regard to the preservation of Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas, to include Scheduled Monuments, Protected Wreck Sites, Registered Parks and Gardens, Registered Battlefields or World Heritage Sites;
  • Enable “street votes”: The Bill would give the Secretary of State power to make regulations permitting residents on a street to propose development on their street, and to vote on whether that development should be given planning permission;
  • Introduce commencement notices: The person carrying out a development would be required to provide a commencement notice to the LPA, specifying the date on which they expect the work to begin and which would be available for public inspection, as part of the LPA’s planning register;
  • Remove two current requirements for completion notices, that the Secretary of State must approve a completion notice and that the notice must be served only after the deadline for commencement of the planning permission has passed;
  • Extend the time limit for enforcement action against unauthorised development consisting of building, engineering, mining or other operations in England from its current four years to 10 years. It would also double the effective period for a temporary stop notice.

The Bill would also deal with a number of other matters:

  • Changing the procedure through which local authorities rename streets, to allow local support for the change (or not) to be expressed;
  • Permitting local authorities to charge up to 200% council tax on furnished holiday homes;
  • Enabling the Government to direct local authorities to reduce borrowing levels and sell assets if certain indicators are breached;
  • Amendments to the legislative foundation of development corporations in England, making it easier for local authorities to establish them;
  • Making permanent certain changes to the pavement licensing regime that were introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • Providing for a review of the governance of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in response to recent concerns;
  • Replacing the provisions of the Vagrancy Act 1824 in regard to begging and rough sleeping;
  • Requiring local authorities to have access to an up to date historic environment record.

Many parts of the Bill would extend only to England and Wales, and in some cases would have effect only in England.

The parts of the Bill concerning levelling up missions, planning data provision, environmental outcomes reports and the review of RICS extend to the whole of the United Kingdom. The parts concerning combined authorities, local government, street names, planning, the infrastructure levy, compulsory purchase, development corporations, rental auctions on high streets, and pavement licensing, extend to England and Wales but have practical effect only in England. The parts concerning land information, historic environment records, and the Vagrancy Act extend to England and Wales.

Follow the progress of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill 2022-23 had its First Reading in the House of Commons on 11 May 2022. Second Reading is scheduled for 8 June 2022.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

Deadline for written evidence submissions

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration and possibly reflect it in an amendment. The order in which amendments are taken in Committee will be available in due course under Selection of Amendments on the Bill documents pages. Once the Committee has dealt with an amendment it will not revisit it.

The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on Tuesday 21 June and the Committee is scheduled to report by Tuesday 20 September. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 20 September. You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible.

Your submission should be emailed to scrutiny@parliament.uk

Further guidance on submitting written evidence can be found here.

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