Summary of the Act
Planning Act 2008
The Planning Bill received Royal Assent on 26 November 2008. The key features of the new Act are:
- The creation of a new planning regime, the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC). The intention is for the IPC to determine nationally significant projects. The IPC will consist of a panel of experts who will consider planning applications on ‘nationally significant infrastructure’ projects. There is no right of appeal of the IPC’s decision, except by judicial review in the High Court. Nationally significant infrastructure projects will include the constructions of pipelines, highways and railways over a certain length, waste water treatment plants, hazardous waste facilities and the large rail freight interchanges. Airports, generating stations, dams, reservoir or harbour facilities will also be decided on by the IPC as will developments in relation to the transfer of water resources; underground storage of gas or the installation of an electric line above ground. The IPC will grant development consent orders which may include, for example, powers of compulsory purchase, stopping up highways and amendments to local Acts thereby creating a unified consents regime.
- A requirement for National Policy Statements (NPS) setting out Government planning policy. The IPC will be required to determine each application against the policy set out in the relevant NPS. The statements will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny and local consultation prior to being adopted. Eleven NPS are currently planned. These are in respect of fossil fuels, renewable energy, electricity networks, gas and downstream oil infrastructure, nuclear power, ports, National Networks, aviation, water supply and waste water treatment and hazardous waste (not including nuclear waste).
- The grant of powers to bring in the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The Act creates a new levy that planning authorities will have the power to charge on new developments to support the development of local and sub-regional infrastructure. The CIL should come into force in 2009 although the precise timescale is not yet known. The CIL does not replace the traditional section 106 route but supplements it. The CIL will be implemented through a mixture of primary legislation and regulations. The regulations will be required to contain provisions that include who can levy CIL and when it will be payable; enforcement of CIL provisions; whether the owner/developer will be liable once development commences and when rights of appeal can be made on questions of fact. The regulations may, but are not required to, contain provisions regarding lists of infrastructure priorities, the method of calculation, satisfaction of the CIL by payments in kind and the operation of CIL alongside other obligations obtained under the section 106 route. Section 106 agreements will still be used to deal with site specific matters and affordable housing, non financial matters, both technical and operational, as well as financial matters where the planning authority has decided not to use the CIL.
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