Only a day after the Queen's Speech the Government has published the widely anticipated Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. The Bill introduces a number of changes to the planning system. Whilst the Bill does not introduce the sheer volume of changes which were previously proposed to come forward in the Government’s now abandoned Planning Bill, there are a number of significant changes which will be introduced if the current itineration of the Bill passes successfully through the Parliamentary process including:

A new duty for decision-makers to act in accordance with the development plan and national policies will be introduced.

Greater weight will be given to local plans, neighbourhood plans and spatial development strategies proposed by mayors or combined authorities.

Limiting the scope of local plans to 'locally specific' matters. 'Issues that apply in most areas' will be covered by new national policies.

The abolition of the 'duty to co-operate' and the introduction of prescribed time limits for various stages of plan preparation.

The introduction of a new power for planning authorities to quickly prepare 'supplementary plans' for parts or all of their areas.

A power for groups of local authorities to be able to produce voluntary spatial development strategies relating to specific cross boundary issues.

A requirement on local planning authorities to have a design code in place covering their administrative areas.

The introduction of a 'simpler' alternative to neighbourhood plans.

The introduction of a 'street votes' system which will enable residents to propose development on their street and hold a vote on whether it should be granted planning permission. The detail of the 'street votes system' to be published subsequently. 

The replacement of S106 planning obligations and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) with a new national levy.

A requirement on local authorities to prepare infrastructure delivery strategies.

The creation of a new procedure to enable the Crown to apply directly to the secretary of state for the determination of nationally significant development.

The closing of various 'loopholes' which frustrate planning enforcement.

Registered parks and gardens will be given the same level of protection in the planning system as listed buildings.

Notable changes include:

Clause 83 of the Bill provides that where the 'development plan conflicts with a national development management policy, the conflict must be resolved in favour of the national development management policy'. The effect of this is that national policy will take precedence over local policy where there is a conflict.

Clause 101 extends the enforcement time limit in England to ten years for all types of breach of development control. It is not entirely clear what justification there is for increasing the four-year time limit for operational development and changes of use to use as a single dwelling.

Clause 103 introduces a new power to issue 'enforcement warning notices'. The purpose of this is to encourage the submission of applications to regularise breaches of development control.

Clause 113 provides that the new infrastructure levy which will apply in England outside of London will be mandatory. Interestingly there will be no repeal of section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Schedule 11 of the Bill provides that the detail will be provided by regulations. Significantly, the new levy will be charged by reference to gross development value as opposed to floorspace which is the basis for the calculation of CIL.

Of course, it is quite possible that the Bill will be amended as it passes through the Parliamentary process and a number of the proposed changes may be subject to amendment. There is also a great deal of detail still to come forward in the form of regulations once the Bill passes into law.