House of Commons Library

Infrastructure Bill: Planning Provisions

Published Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Infrastructure Bill 2014-15 would make changes to the planning system: to change the process of development consent for nationally significant infrastructure projects, and to allow certain types of planning conditions to be regarded as discharged if a local planning authority took too long to determine an official application to discharge them. This note sets out these provisions and comment on them in more detail.

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The Queen’s Speech announced that an Infrastructure Bill would be introduced in this Parliamentary session. The Infrastructure Bill started in the House of Lords and is now in the Commons as Bill 154 2014-15. The Bill had its Commons second reading debate on 8 December 2014. The committee stage of the Bill in the Commons was held from 16 December 2014 – 15 January 2015. The next stage for the Bill, the report stage, is schedule for 26 January 2015. This note explains the planning provisions in the Bill in more detail.

The Bill is wide-ranging and covers many areas. A number of planning reforms are included to increase efficiency in the planning system by:

• making changes to the procedures in the Planning Act 2008 for handling minor changes to existing development consent orders (DCOs) for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs). It would also simplify the processes for making significant changes;

• allowing the examining authority, (a panel of planning inspectors who consider DCO applications), to be appointed earlier on in the process, immediately after an application has been accepted;

• allowing the examining authority panel to comprise only two inspectors; and

• allowing certain types of planning conditions to be regarded as discharged if a local planning authority has not notified the applicant of their decision within a set time period.

A new clause, now clause 27, was added to the Bill at Commons committee stage which would introduce a new power for the Mayor of London to make Mayoral Development Orders, which would grant planning permission for development on specified sites within Greater London in response to an application from each local planning authority.

The planning clauses have been generally uncontentious during their passage through both Houses and have remained un-amended to date.

This note focuses only on the planning-related provisions in the Bill (clauses 23-27). The territorial extent has the same extent as the legislation to which it relates.

For further information about the Bill as a whole see Library Research Paper, Infrastructure Bill (RP 14/65).

Commons Briefing papers SN06909

Author: Louise Smith

Topic: Planning

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