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More housebuilding clarity needed in levelling up law, MPs warn

MPs have criticised the lack of detail in the government’s flagship Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill when it comes to housebuilding and planning reform.

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee has written to Housing Secretary Greg Clark to warn that the legislation does little to support extra infrastructure alongside new property developments.

The committee’s inquiry has focused on the planning provisions in the Bill.


However, it said the main tool to achieving levelling up will be ensuring there is appropriate funding going to the areas that need it most. 

The Bill will do little to ensure improvement in key areas such as transport, skills training or digital connectivity, which would make a significant contribution to improving local communities, it said.

In the letter, the committee expresses concern about the Bill’s lack of detail on planning provisions amid fears of a move to a more centralised approach to planning decisions.

It warns that while the committee had not heard significant criticism of the proposals, but said much of the substantive detail will come in secondary legislation or after further consultation, leaving people guessing as to the direction of the Government’s planning agenda.

With the government still committed to its target of delivering 300,000 homes a year, the letter said that more clarity is needed on how the government plans to achieve this level of building. 

The Bill would mean that a level of affordable housing provision will have to be met by local authorities but it is not clear if this a set target or merely a guideline, the committe claims.

Clive Betts, chairman of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, said:  “In its current form, the Bill does little to reassure that levelling up will prove to be more than just a slogan and that we will have meaningful change in local communities across the country. 

“In key areas, it is unclear how the Government intends to drive change and they are yet to commit to the spending that is necessary to level up the country.

“Our inquiry has focused on the planning provisions in the Bill, which can be described as loosely connected proposals to tinker with the current system, hopefully achieving some improvement.

“It has been difficult to conduct scrutiny due to a lot of the detail of the provisions having not yet been published. We were asked by the Secretary of State to give our view, and our advice is that more information is provided on what the Government’s intentions are, and that the Government states unambiguously that it is not seeking to centralise planning decisions.”


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