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Mon June 14 2021

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Government sets out 'build back' plans

11 May The government has set out its legislative programme for the next parliament, including bills covering planning, building safety, public procurement and the next stage of construction for the HS2 railway.

The prime minister checks his script
The prime minister checks his script

A central theme of the legislative programme is the prime minister’s mantra of ‘build back…’, with promises to ‘build back stronger’, ‘build back fairer, ‘build back greener, ‘build back safer’, etc.

Much of the proposed legislation had been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic consuming government's attention, but the cost of dealing with the virus has only added impetus to the need to 'build back'.

The Planning Bill is the government’s much discussed drive to simplify the planning system for the benefit of developers, to get more homes and more infrastructure built more quickly. Local authorities will have to designate land according to three bands, which might be crudely categorised as: ‘no way’, ‘talk to us’, and ‘sure, go ahead and build’.

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The Building Safey Bill will, if passed, enact recommendations of the Hackitt report, commissioned in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. It will establish the Building Safety Regulator, establish a new framework to provide national oversight of construction products, establish a new homes ombudsman and introduce a levy on developers of tall buildings to pay for the removal of unsafe cladding.

The Procurement Bill is designed to simplify procurement in the public sector now that the UK is no longer subject to EU public procurement directives. It would make it easier for public bodies to give contracts to preferred suppliers – those who satisfy specified political outcomes beyond the remit of the contract – regardless of price. The government promises that everything will be much simpler and more transparent than currently.

The High Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill will, assuming MPs continue to back the project, provide the powers to build and operate the next stage of the HS2 network from Crewe to Manchester. However, there was no mention of the planned leg to Leeds.

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