The government has published its Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which has had its’ first reading in parliament yesterday, 11 May 2022. This stage is formal and takes place without any debate.
MPs will next consider the Bill at a Second Reading. The date for second reading has not yet been announced. Some key points which may interest you from the Bill are:-
- Letting by Local Authorities of Vacant High Street Premises – where a premises is in an area designated as a ‘high street’ or ‘town centre’ by a local authority, has been vacant for a period of 366 days during the last 2 years, and its occupation for a suitable high-street use (e.g. shop, office, restaurant, bar, service) would be beneficial to the local economy, society or environment, the authority may serve an ‘Initial Letting Notice’ on the landlord of the premises. This requires the Landlord to rent the property out and provide evidence of a signed lease within 2 months, and if none is presented, an authority will be able to serve a final rental auction notice, triggering a two-month rental auction period for bidders to come forward to be a tenant of the property.
- Infrastructure Levy – This will replace the current system of developer contributions (s106 funding) with a simple, mandatory, and locally determined Infrastructure Levy. The Bill sets out the framework for the new Levy, and the detailed design will be delivered through regulations. The Levy will be charged on the value of property when it is sold and applied above a minimum threshold. Levy rates and minimum thresholds will be set and collected locally, and local authorities will be able to set different rates within their area. The levy will go towards funding the local infrastructure – affordable housing, schools, GP surgeries, and roads – that new development creates the need for.
- Pavement Licensing – The temporary changes to pavement licensing for the hospitality industry made as a result of the pandemic will be made permanent to expand capacity for businesses.