Changes to Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects

Changes to Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects


Author: Paul Weeks

Applies to: England

The Housing and Planning Bill makes a couple of significant changes to Section 115 of the Planning Act 2008.

These changes alter the powers of the Secretary of State with regard to the grant of permission for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.

First, it introduces the concept of 'related housing development'. This is housing provided on the same site as, next to, close to or otherwise associated with a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

Secondly, it introduces a requirement that the Secretary of State must take into account those matters set out in guidance (to be subsequently published), by the Secretary of State, when considering any application for development consent which includes related housing development.

The changes are clearly aimed at ensuring that there is ability for the Secretary of State to support housing which is parasitic upon a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and to ensure that published guidance is followed in making any assessment in this respect.

The guidance itself, when unveiled, will provide more detail about the circumstances in which it will be considered acceptable for housing to come forward in these circumstances. As such the proposals will deliver a new stream of housing at a national level; but at what cost to local plan making and decision taking?

Clearly, the guidance will need to wrestle with and balance the obvious difficulties in catering for additional housing need at a local level; when that same housing need has effectively arisen (some might say has been imposed), by central government as a result of the approval of a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

Many will see this as an erosion of local decision making which sits uneasily alongside the ongoing localism agenda.

Urban development corporations

The Bill also makes changes to the Local Government Planning and Land Act 1980.

Specifically, the way in which urban development areas must be designated and urban development corporations established.

Under existing legislation, where either an urban development area is designated or a corporation established, the order doing does not have effect unless approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

The changes to the legislation mean that a new consultation procedure is introduced.

Therefore, an order made for a designation or the establishment of new body will come into effect immediately, but would be subject to annulment pursuant to a resolution of either Houses of Parliament.

This change is a permanent measure being introduced to replace the temporary measures introduced by the Deregulation Act 2015.

It is also clearly aimed at bringing the legislative powers into effect more promptly. In effect creating a 'presumption of regularity' unless and until an Order is subsequently quashed or cancelled.


This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

About the author

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Paul Weeks

Senior Associate

03700 86 6865

Paul is a senior associate in Shoosmiths' planning team. He has experience of a wide range of planning and highways issues with significant experience in residential development. He advises a broad client base including house builders, developers and local authorities.

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