Current Government Consultations linked to new legislation

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill has been introduced to Parliament, with the bill including a raft of changes to the planning system, including around developer contributions, environmental assessment and enforcement.

The bill received its second reading in the House of Commons on 8 June. During the six-hour debate, MPs discussed its major changes to planning laws. The planning measures in the bill “have been informed by more than 40,000 responses to the government’s 2020 White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’, and the subsequent inquiry into planning reform by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee.  The new system will be based on the principles of beauty, infrastructure, democracy, environment and neighbourhood engagement.

Michael Gove has announced that the government would publish an NPPF prospectus in July for consultation, setting out its “further thinking” .

Following the publication of the Bill the government is proposing to change compulsory purchase laws to allow local authorities to cap land values at their existing use where the public interest can be demonstrated as part of a shake-up of the way compensation for landowners is assessed.

consultation document, outlined a series of changes to CPOs and pledges to bring forward a “faster, more efficient compulsory purchase system that acquiring authorities are confident in using and that produces the right outcomes to bring forward much needed development including for housing, regeneration and infrastructure”.

Under the current system, landowners can apply to the local authority, at the latter’s cost, for a certificate of appropriate alternative development (CAAD). The certificate allows the land owner to claim what is known as “hope value” – the value attributed to prospective planning permission – which can significantly increase the value of the land above and beyond its existing use value and impact the viability of development.

According to the consultation document, this can lead to “perverse outcomes” as the valuation is required to assume 100 per cent certainty of achieving planning permission even when that likelihood may actually be much lower. This “artificially inflates compensation because a transaction in normal market conditions would reflect the actual risk associated with the likelihood of planning permission being granted”, the document states.

The government is therefore proposing a number of changes to the system that it says would ensure the “balance of compensation and costs in relation to hope value is right” and to simplify the process for obtaining a CAAD.

This includes ensuring compensation payments “reflect normal market conditions”, a proposal to establish a “single route” for determining hope value based on the likelihood of appropriate alternative development and removing the requirement for authorities to cover the cost of obtaining a CAAD.

These changes will rebalance costs and compensation between landowner and acquiring authority and will be brought forward as amendments in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, according to the document.

The document also seeks to evaluate the possibility of further changes to the CPO system, including a proposal that would allow local authorities to seek direction from the secretary of state to cap payments for specific schemes at, or just above, existing use value “where it can be shown that the public interest in doing so would be justified”.

This would provide authorities with “upfront certainty” about the viability of schemes and avoid “lengthy disputes” over the amount of hope value payable and uncertainty.

The consultation is open until 19 July.

Running concurrently with the publication of the Social Housing Regulation Bill, DLUHC is consulting on Electrical Safety Standards in Social Housing.

The consultation follows the commitment in the Social Housing White Paper to consult on proposals for mandatory checks on electrical installations in social housing at least every 5 years, and for mandatory testing of portable electrical appliances provided by the landlord, to achieve parity with the private rented sector. Following the recommendations of the DLUHC Working Group on Electrical Safety, the consultation paper also includes a call for evidence on the case for mandatory checks on electrical installations in owner-occupied leasehold properties within social housing blocks, to mitigate the risk of these properties compromising the safety of the block as a whole.   The consultation runs until 31 August.

On 9 June, the Government Equalities Office published a consultation paper ‘Improving disabled people’s access to let residential premises: reasonable adjustments to common parts, a new duty’. 

The consultation aims to require landlords to make reasonable adjustments to common parts of let properties (such as entrances and hallways) when asked to by a disabled person. This would require a new duty under section 36 of the Equalities Act 2010. Most of section 36 has already commenced and imposes (for example) a duty on landlords/commonhold associations to permit and facilitate reasonable adjustments, on request, from disabled tenants to their private dwellings.

This new right would apply in all non-freehold housing sectors – leasehold-owned, the private rented sector and housing provided by local authorities and housing associations, where the premises has common parts, subject to certain exceptions. It should be noted that only tenants/occupants meeting the Act’s definition of disability will benefit from the new protection.

Finally, the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published a consultation on the Higher-Risk Building (Descriptions and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations.

This consultation is the first in a series of consultations on regulations which sit under the Building Safety Act 2022. It covers regulations which will complete the definition of higher-risk building for the purpose of the new more stringent regime. It seeks views on:

  • the overall definition of a building for the purposes of both the design and construction and occupation parts of the new more stringent building safety regime being brought forward by the Building Safety Act;
  • which buildings are included and excluded in relation to the design and construction part of the new regime and the definitions of these buildings;
  • which buildings are excluded in relation to the occupation part of the new regime and the definitions of these buildings; and
  • the method for measuring height and number of storeys.

The responses to this consultation will be used help develop final regulations before they are laid in parliament.  The consultation will be open until the 21 July 2022.