Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 - Get building!


The radical and in parts, controversial Levelling up Bill finally received royal assent on Friday 26 October 2023 and is now known as the Levelling up and Regeneration Act 2023 ("LURA").  With LURA, the government aims to “speed up the planning system, hold developers to account, cut bureaucracy, and encourage more councils to put in place plans to enable the building of new homes”. 

LURA covers a wide range of ambitious planning and property reforms.  Much of the Act requires further guidance and secondary legislation and consultation before the provisions take legal effect. And there remain questions as to whether some parts of LURA will ever come into force such as the heavily debated Infrastructure Levy (more on that next time).  Below is a summary of the LURA provisions which are aimed at encouraging developers to get building, some of which take effect within two months from the date LURA was passed.

1.Commencement notices - Developers will now be required to inform local authorities when they intend to implement planning consents (including section 73 consents) by serving commencement notices.  A new commencement notice may be given if the anticipated date has changed, and a new commencement notice must be given if the development is not commenced on the date provided previously.

A local planning authority may serve a notice on the developer if they fail to provide a commencement notice. The person on whom the noticed is served is guilty of an offence if they fail to give the required information within 21 days beginning on the day in which it is served. There is a defence to the offence, if a reasonable excuse for failing to provide the information required is given. If charged the relevant person may be liable for a maximum fine of £1000.

2.Condition requiring development progress reports - Planning permission for relevant residential developments will be granted subject to a condition requiring a development progress report to be provided to the local planning authority.

The report will need to set out the progress which has been made towards completing the dwellings, the progress which is predicted to be made towards completing the dwellings over each subsequent reporting period up to and including the last reporting period and any other information prescribed by The Secretary of State.

The reporting periods are as follows:

  • First reporting period: begins at a prescribed time or event during which the development has begun for a period of 12 months.
  • Next reporting period: begins immediately after the first reporting period has ended for a period of 12 months.
  • Last reporting period: a period ending with the day on which the development is completed.

These provisions take effect from 26 December 2023.

3.Completion notices - If a local planning authority is of the opinion that a development is being built out "unreasonably slowly", they can serve a completion notice stating the development needs to have reached completion by a specified date at least 12 months away or the planning permission will cease to have effect and a new planning permission will be required. 

It will be interesting to see how local authorities interpret what "unreasonably slowly" means in practice because of course this is a matter of judgment and will depend on the particular circumstances of each case. 

These provisions take effect from 26 December 2023.

4.Power to decline to determine applications in cases of earlier non-implementation - A local planning authority may now decline to determine an application for planning permission for a development where there are earlier cases of non- implementation or unreasonably slow building out of developments in the relevant local authority's area.

When deciding whether a development has been carried out unreasonably slowly, the local planning authority must have regards to:

  • Whether the developing began by the date specified in cases where a commencement notice is given
  • Whether a completion notice was served in respect of the earlier development
  • All other circumstances

These provisions take effect from 26 December 2023.

5.Enforcement – enforcement powers have been strengthened by extending the period for enforcement to ten years for all breaches of planning control.

It remains to be seen whether these provisions will in fact achieve the government's ambition to deliver more homes and how under resourced local authorities will embrace their new powers and responsibilities.

We will update further when LURA is published later this month with updates on the other key planning reforms as well as input from our property colleagues on the new property requirements.

In the meantime, if you have any questions please do get in touch with a member of the Planning team.



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