Levelling Up Bill paused

Government puts major piece of legislation on hold
Rural housing development, Wales

The Country Land and Business Association has reacted with dismay at the news that the passage of the Levelling Up Bill will be paused.

The Levelling Up Bill is a major piece of legislation designed to reduce regional inequalities. It also tackles a number of long-standing planning and housing issues.

The passage of the bill was paused after an amendment signed by almost 50 Conservative MPs attempted to ban government-calculated housing targets from influencing planning applications. It would also scrap the current system under which local councils have to maintain a rolling five-year stock of land for future development.

Other amendments tabled by the group of MPs would create stricter time-limits for developers granted planning permission to start building.

The delay is frustrating as the CLA has been campaigning for radical improvements to the planning process, and to make it easier to build a small number of houses in a large number of villages – tackling the housing crisis without fundamentally altering the character of any given community.

Responding to the delay, Country Land and Business Association President Mark Tufnell said:

"These MPs are strangling rural communities with the very same cotton wool they want to wrap us in. Nobody wants the countryside to be concreted over, but many villages are desperately in need of a small number of additional houses.

"The lack of housing stock is driving young people out of the countryside, and high prices are preventing families from moving into it. It means rural businesses have fewer workers and fewer customers. It means rural communities are weaker, with schools, village halls and pubs and shops all facing an increasing threat of closure. Nobody wins from this, and everyone who loves the countryside knows it."