The government’s flagship Localism Bill, which was expected to be published yesterday by the Department of Local Government and Communities, has been delayed until Monday 13 December.
The long-awaited Bill is seen as central to David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ agenda and involves wide-ranging reforms to planning guidelines.
The document is expected to contain new measures to encourage residential development. Local rural housing projects that secure 75 per cent of residents’ backing in local referenda will be given automatic planning permission under a new initiative entitled ‘Community Right to Build’.
Meanwhile, the New Homes Bonus will see the government rewarding local councils for allowing the development of new housing projects by matching any additional council tax revenue generated for six years. While this will encourage local councils to support new housing, it could lead to the development of properties that would not usually be given planning permission, including dense, high-rise buildings.
A move which could impact on large project developers is the proposed reform of the Community Infrastructure Levy. Previously local councils were allowed to raise funds from developers of local projects. This will be changed so that neighbourhoods also receive a share of these funds for community groups or to fund smaller local projects. However, there are fears that this could lead to developers ‘bribing’ local communities in order to ensure their projects are supported.