The government last night revealed more details on its flagship Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill including letting local authorities double council tax on empty and second homes and imposing local design codes for developers.
The Bill was one of the key parts of this week’s Queen’s Speech.
Through the proposed law, the government aims to help transform struggling towns and cities, support local leaders to take back control of regeneration, end the blight of empty shops on their high streets and deliver the quality homes that communities need.
The focus on housebuilding in the Bill includes:
- Local plans - the way in which councils set the vision for future development in their area and decide whether to give planning permission - will gain stronger legal weight and be made simpler to produce. Communities will have a major say in these plans giving them more opportunity to shape what happens in their areas. Currently 61% of councils do not have an up to date local plan, which leaves communities exposed to development on which they haven’t had a meaningful say.
- A digitised planning system making plans and planning applications fully available on your smartphone.
- Stronger protections for the environment in local plans, empowering councils to make better use of brownfield land and protect precious greenbelt land.
- Local design codes will be made mandatory so that developers have to respect styles drawn up and favoured locally - from the layout or materials used, to how it provides green space.
Other property related measures in the Bill include giving local leaders the powers to regenerate their communities and transform their high streets and town centres
- New powers for local leaders to run High Street Rental Auctions, where they can auction off tenancies in shops that have been vacant for over a year. This will help to end the plague of empty shops that blight so many high streets.
-Councils will also be able to double council tax on empty and second homes, ensuring everyone pays their fair share towards local services and boost levelling up.
- The ‘al-fresco dining revolution’ will be made permanent, injecting new life into the high street through creating a sustainable process for communities, business and local authorities, making it permanently cheaper and quicker to get a licence for outdoor dining.
- A new, locally set infrastructure levy, charged on the final value of property when its sold, will replace much of the broken S106 payments system. This will see the big developers contribute far more of the money they make from development towards building better local roads, rail, schools, hospitals, and more affordable housing.
- Legislation to make it easier for councils to regenerate their town centres through Compulsory Purchase Orders, making the process quicker and easier to use.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “As a country, we need to be firing on all cylinders.
“That is why we must level up the UK, spread prosperity and opportunity, and make sure everyone can share in our nation’s success.
“This Bill puts in place the reforms we need to level up.
“It enshrines our levelling up missions in law, which will shift resources and focus throughout this decade to the parts and people of the country who need it most. It enables every part of England which wants a London-style mayor to have one. It empowers local people, not the big developers, to take back control of regeneration in their community.
“It shifts power out of Whitehall by giving local leaders the powers they need to tackle the blight of empty shops on high streets and to regenerate their communities. This is underpinned by a firm belief that by far the best placed people to level up communities are the people who live there.
“We want everyone to be given the opportunity to stay local but go far.”