My Lords, Amendment 266, tabled by my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Pickering, tackles the important issue of the agent of change principle in planning and licensing—that is, the principle that existing businesses should not be negatively affected by restrictions on them resulting from new development in their area. National policies and guidance already provide strong support for that principle, and we will continue to make sure that authorities have the tools needed to deliver it. The Government therefore do not consider the amendment necessary.
I agree with my noble friend that preventing this happening is important to so many businesses, especially in the night-time economy, where these issues most regularly occur. That is why we amended the National Planning Policy Framework in 2018 to embed these principles, with paragraph 187 of the current framework saying:
“Existing businesses and facilities should not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result of development permitted after they were established”.
In answer to the noble Baronesses, Lady Henig and Lady Hayman of Ullock, that came after the consultation, so it was partly a response to it. The framework goes on to highlight that, where there could be “a significant adverse effect”, the onus should be put on the agent of change proposing the new development to provide suitable mitigation before it has been completed.
We are also introducing national development management policies through the Bill. In future, and subject to further appropriate consultation, these will allow us to give important national planning policy protections statutory weight in planning decisions for the first time.
We believe that the proposed requirement for a noise impact assessment to be undertaken for relevant development would duplicate existing guidance for local planning authorities. Planning practice guidance published by the department is clear that the agent of change will need to clearly identify the effects of existing businesses that may cause a nuisance to future residents or users of the development proposed.
The guidance also sets out that the agent of change is expected to define clearly any mitigation that is proposed to address any potential significant adverse effects, in order to try to prevent future complaints from new residents or users. Many local planning authorities also make this assessment of effects a part of their local lists of information required to be submitted alongside relevant planning applications. After such assessment of the effects, reasonable planning conditions can be used to make sure that any mitigation by the agent of change is completed, as agreed with the local planning authority when planning permission is granted.
Importantly, the Government agree that co-ordination between the planning and licensing regimes is crucial to protect those businesses in practice. This is why in December 2022 the Home Office published a revised version of its guidance, made under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003, cross-referencing the relevant section of the National Planning Policy Framework for the first time. Combined with our wider changes in the Bill, we will make sure that our policy results in better protections for these businesses and delivers on the agent of change principle in practice.
I hope I have demonstrated that the Government’s policies embed the agent of change principle and that we will continue to make sure it is reflected in planning and licensing decisions in future.