The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill at second reading on 17 January 2023.

The bill would give effect to aspects of the government’s levelling up agenda to reduce economic, social and environmental disparities between and within different parts of the UK. In particular, it would provide for a new statutory requirement for ministers to set, report on progress against and review ‘levelling up missions’. The government set out 12 missions that are likely to form the basis of any future statutory goals in its levelling up white paper published in February 2022. 

The bill would also provide for the creation of new ‘combined county authorities’ amongst other changes related to local democracy and devolution in England. In addition, the bill would make provision for significant changes to the planning system in England. The government has summarised these changes as falling under five ‘pillars’, listed as beauty, infrastructure, democracy, environment and neighbourhoods. The bill contains a wide range of other measures, some of which were added during the bill’s report stage in the House of Commons. Added measures include those concerning community land auction pilots, nutrient pollution standards applicable to sewage disposal works, the registration of short-term rental properties and marine licensing. One placeholder clause relating to vagrancy and begging was removed.

Alongside the proposals in the bill, on 22 December 2022 the government launched a consultation on reforms to national planning policy in England. This includes proposals relating to housebuilding in communities and onshore wind. The consultation is open until 2 March 2023. 

At second reading in the House of Commons, the Labour Party said it would not oppose the bill. However, it criticised the government for a lack of ambition and argued the bill would require “significant changes and additions […] if it is to deliver the change that communities up and down the country are waiting for”.

This briefing should be read in conjunction with the bill’s explanatory notes, impact assessment and delegated powers memorandum. Two House of Commons Library briefings, one published ahead of the bill’s second reading and the other following committee stage, provide more detailed background information on the bill as it was considered in the House of Commons.

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