Localism Act 2011

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Localism Act 2011
Long title An Act to make provision about the functions and procedures of local and certain other authorities; to make provision about the functions of the Commission for Local Administration in England; to enable the recovery of financial sanctions imposed by the Court of Justice of the European Union on the United Kingdom from local and public authorities; to make provision about local government finance; to make provision about town and country planning, the Community Infrastructure Levy and the authorisation of nationally significant infrastructure projects; to make provision about social and other housing; to make provision about regeneration in London; and for connected purposes.
Chapter 20
Introduced by Eric Pickles
Territorial extent England and Wales
Dates
Royal Assent 15 November 2011
Status: Amended
History of passage through Parliament
Text of statute as originally enacted
Official text of the Localism Act 2011 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database

The Localism Act 2011 (c. 20) is an Act of Parliament that changes the powers of local government in England. The measures affected by the Act include more elected mayors, referendums and the "Local authority’s general power of competence" (Part 1, chapter 1) which states "A local authority has power to do anything that individuals generally may do".[1]

The official summary of the act is:[2]

To make provision about the functions and procedures of local and certain other authorities; to make provision about the functions of the Local Commission for Administration in England; to enable the recovery of financial sanctions imposed by the Court of Justice of the European Union on the United Kingdom from local and public authorities; to make provision about local government finance; to make provision about town and country planning, the Community Infrastructure Levy and the authorisation of nationally significant infrastructure projects; to make provision about social and other housing; to make provision about regeneration in London; and for connected purposes.

Timetable[edit]

The bill was introduced by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, and given its first reading on 13 December 2010. The Bill completed the third reading in the House of Lords on 31 October 2011.[3] The bill received Royal Assent on 15 November 2011.

The main section of the Act[2] is split into ten parts (totalling 240 pages), and this is followed by 25 further schedules (additional 243 pages). A short summary of the main points is available.[4] Sections of the Act involving new regulations are straightforward but the Act also includes many detailed modifications of existing Acts, such as the "Town and Country Planning Act 1990" and the "Planning Act 2008".

Part 1: Local Government[edit]

This is one of the major sections of the Act, and the one which extends the power of local authorities, from county councils to parish councils, to 'do anything that individuals generally may do' as long as that is not limited by some other Act. It deals with the standards expected of council members, with the keeping of registers of interests and, in an important change, it allows members to have expressed prior views about a topic and also contribute towards a decision on that topic, without the risk of making the decision invalid.

Parts 2 and 3: EU Financial Sanctions[edit]

These sections give ministers the right to require public authorities to pay fines to the European Union resulting from an infraction of European Union law.

Part 4: Non-domestic Rates[edit]

This appears to consist primarily of technical changes to the rating of business properties.

Part 5: Community Empowerment[edit]

The first two chapters in this section are concerned with council tax and new right for charitable trusts, voluntary bodies and others to apply to councils to carry out services provided by the council. It also allows lists to be compiled of Assets of Community Value such as shops, pubs and playing fields, which are privately owned, but which are of value to the community. If the asset is later sold, the Act makes it easier for the community to bid for and take over the asset.

Part 6: Planning[edit]

Regional Strategies are abolished but there is a duty for interested parties to co-operate in the preparation of development plans. The Community Infrastructure Levy now includes the additional costs, besides infrastructure costs, that development places on an area and the money raised can be used to fund the improvement, replacement, operation or maintenance of infrastructure as well as its provision.

The Act allows neighbourhood plans to be developed but to be adopted they have to pass both an inspection stage and a local referendum. Suitable community organisations can obtain the rights to develop an area.

The Act specifies how planning decisions can be legally enforced and allows planning authorities to decline to process planning applications which include any region affected by a planning enforcement notice. Nationally the Infrastructure Planning Commission is abolished and new powers put in place to cover national infrastructure projects.

Part 7: Housing[edit]

Each English housing authority must have an "allocation scheme" for determining priorities. Reasonable preference should be given to groups such as the homeless and those living in insanitary conditions but otherwise housing authorities may themselves decide who to support and the conditions of support. People subject to immigration control cannot be supported. The authorities' duty to homeless people, who are not intentionally homeless, now ceases if they refuse reasonable accommodation.

The housing authorities must publish a "tenancy strategy" giving the types of tenancy provided, the circumstances under which they are granted, their length and the circumstances in which they may be extended. This section also includes many changes to tenancy law, to the financing of local authority housing and to the handling of complaints. Home Information Packs, which were required when selling a property, are abolished.

Part 8: London[edit]

This section is concerned with changes to the Acts and regulations which affect the Greater London Authority. It abolishes the London Development Agency to be replaced by a subsidiary corporation (GLA Land and Property) and requires the Mayor of London to prepare and publish an "Economic development strategy for London” and "The London Environment Strategy". The section also allows the Mayor of London to create "Mayoral development corporations" whose object is to regenerate parts of London identified as "Mayoral development areas".

Part 9: Compensation for Compulsory Acquisition[edit]

This is concerned with changes to the "Land Compensation Act 1961" which mean that existing planning permissions can be taken into account when compensation is being assessed.

Part 10: General[edit]

This section is concerned with administrative details, such as the date at which each section of the Act starts operating, how consultations should be carried out and the powers needed to make and amend the orders and regulations required by the Act.

Areas of influence[edit]

Cornwall[edit]

It has been suggested that the Localism Bill could form a stepping stone to a devolved Cornish Assembly. Greg Clark, the minister responsible for the Bill, has indicated that this would be possible.[5] In November 2010, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that his government would "devolve a lot of power to Cornwall - that will go to the Cornish unitary authority."[6] Talks are currently under way between the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and a cross party group, including the six Cornish MPs, as to how to bring about the devolution of powers to Cornwall.[7]

Greater Manchester[edit]

In November 2011, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority used the Localism Act 2011 to seek provision for a further transfer of powers that would result in an additional devolution of authority from the UK's central government, enhancing its powers over transport and housing and granting it competencies to fund and control schemes on its own terms.[8]

References[edit]