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Our concerns about the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill

18th June 2022

We have analysed the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (LURB) to identify its potential impacts for the countryside in Hertfordshire.

The LURB had its second reading in Parliament earlier in June, and now moves on to the committee stages. This is a major piece of legislation with significant implications for local and central government and local communities.

We have prepared a six page summary note of our concerns, including what we perceive to be the biggest dangers and omissions in the draft legislation. If not rectified, these weaknesses will introduce further uncertainty and complication in the statutory planning system, to the detriment of the countryside.

Among our concerns are –

  • Insufficient prioritisation of protection of the countryside, including clear and unambiguous protection of designated areas such as Green Belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Proposed changes to how Local Plans will be made and the relationship between Local Plans and national policy
  • National Development Management Policy (NDMP) having primacy over local and neighbourhood development plans
  • Insufficient emphasis on environmental protection and environmental outcomes
  • Lack of provisions for climate change mitigation and addressing the loss of biodiversity
  • Omission of any direct mechanism to improve the supply of genuinely affordable housing
  • Omission of any provisions to reassess the calculation of housing need, and lack of recognition that the current “one size fits all” calculation methodology is inappropriate and out of date

Additionally, we believe the LURB misses a huge opportunity to consider national or regional land use strategies in the face of competing demands. These demands include uses of open land for agriculture, leisure, recreation, renewable energy generation, economic and social development, and addressing climate change and loss of biodiversity. These are critical topics with a direct correlation to the aims of levelling up and yet they are largely ignored by the Bill.

The result is lack of clarity for local planning authorities and communities which, together with unpredictable and inconsistent decision making from the Planning Inspectorate, combine to create the perfect climate for highly damaging speculative planning applications.

Our summary note is available for download here.

long range view over green grassy fields, woodlands and distant hills with a blue sky and puffy white clouds overhead
In the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Dacorum Borough Eliza Hermann
a dark sky at night with hundreds of stars visible in the milky way overhead