UK: Planning Act Blog 211: Assessments Put Flesh On Bones Of Localism Bill

Last Updated: 3 February 2011
Article by Angus Walker

This is entry number 211, published on 2 February 2011, of a blog on the Planning Act 2008 infrastructure planning and authorisation regime. Click here for a link to the whole blog. If you would like to be notified when the blog is updated, with links sent by email, click here.

Today's entry analyses a suite of impact assessments published on the Localism Bill.

The government published no fewer than 33 assessments of the impact of the Localism Bill on Monday, which can be found here. The assumptions made in costing the impacts of the Bill give a useful indication of the take-up of the Bill powers that the government expects, as well as other information about how the Act will operate.

Pre-application consultation

The Bill extends the requirement for pre-application consultation that applies to nationally significant infrastructure projects to other applications, albeit to a lesser degree. For the first time, the impact assessment provides an indication of which developments will be caught by this requirement.

The requirement is proposed to apply to all residential developments of at least 200 units (or 4 hectares) and all other developments taking up at least 10,000 square metres (or 2 hectares). This is expected to apply to 3000 planning applications a year. Thus the scope of types of planning application is all types, and the threshold will apply to only the top 0.6% of applications.

General power of competence

The impact assessment drily notes that despite being given a general power of competence, local authorities will still not be able to 'wage thermonuclear war' (apparently an Eric Pickles joke).

Community right to buy

The impact assessment calls it this, even though it is nowhere near a 'right to buy' - it is a right to say you would like to be allowed to make an offer (and even falls short of actually being invited to make an offer).

The government considered giving community groups a right of first refusal, but decided against it given the complexity of doing so, and the impact it would have on owners of the affected property.

Community right to challenge

Not much on this, save to say that the government estimates that 500 challenges will be launched per year. The government did consider giving the challenger the right to take over the service without a procurement exercise, but decided not to pursue such an option for several reasons, not least that there would be no guarantee that the challenger would be any better than the previous provider.

Local referendums

The average cost of a local referendum is estimated to be £70k each if the referendum is held on the same day as another election, or £250k if not, based on data compiled by Tower Hamlets. This contrasts with the figure of £11m given by Sir Simon Milton last week of an off-election referendum being held across the whole of London (£250k x 33 authorities being about £8m).

The government estimates that 10% of local authorities will have a referendum each year, on average.

The government has decided that referendums should not be binding, arguing that this would undermine the principle of representative democracy (vs participative democracy, see previous blog entry), the objective being to influence rather than control local authorities.

Regional planning

The Localism Bill substitutes regional planning with a duty on local authorities to co-operate on planning, which mainly affects housing, since regional strategies contained housing targets. The impact assessment argues that the link between targets and delivery was weak anyway, and that the negative and positive results of abolishing them (e.g. some lower housing targets, but greater acceptance of schemes) won't make much difference. This is somewhat at variance with the housebuilders' evidence to the Bill Committee last week (see previous blog entry).

Neighbourhood plans

The Bill is not clear on whether neighbourhood development plans can conflict with the local authority's planning policies in its local development framework, and if so, which takes precedence. The impact assessment sheds some light on this.

Neighbourhood development plans (NDPs) are to be in general conformity with just the 'strategic elements' of the development plan, and this phrase will be defined in national planning policy framework. An NDP can be thrown out by the local authority if it conflicts with these strategic elements, or national policy, or legal requirements. No news on how conflicts between a neighbourhood plan and the 'non-strategic' elements of the development plan are resolved, though.

The assessment also says that if a local planning authority adopts a neighbourhood plan that proposes less development than identified within the development plan, it may be revoked by the government.

The assessment estimates that the average neighbourhood development plan will cost £63,000 to set up, and that there will be nearly 2000 of them in five years. The total of £126m is a bit more than the £3m it has set aside for them so far.

There are expected to be as many neighbourhood areas as there currently are local government wards, i.e. 7613, assuming that the average area will be the same size as a ward. That may be a good estimate but for the wrong reasons - I would guess that less than the whole country will be covered by neighbourhood areas, but that neighbourhoods will be on the whole smaller than wards.

Infrastructure planning

Not much to report here, all well known and well reported in this blog. Apparently the estimated cost saving of not having to publish Statements of Community Consultation in full is £2.7m over 10 years.

Community Infrastructure Levy

65% of local authorities are expected to introduce a CIL by 2016.

Previous entry 210: MPs gather evidence on Localism Bill

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Angus Walker
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.