Head of Environmental Issues | Head of Planning | Real Estate
This website will offer limited functionality in this browser. We only support the recent versions of major browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge.
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA) aims to improve access to planning data through its digitalisation. This will involve making reports and information available digitally and creating publicly available databases, as well as seeking to secure better data collection.
Under section 84, the Secretary of State (SoS) has the power to make regulations that require a relevant planning authority (RPA) to comply with applicable and approved data standards. These are standards which will be published by the SoS or applicable devolved authority and will contain technical specifications or requirements for planning data and its processing.
Data falls under the definition of "planning data" where it is provided to or processed by the RPA, either to carry out its statutory functions under specified "planning enactments", or "for any other purpose relating to planning or development in England."
The SoS must consult with the devolved administrations in relation to any regulations that seek to take effect in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
RPAs can request, accept, or refuse planning data in accordance with the approved data standards by way of a notice, as set out at section 85. This notice can require persons to provide specified planning data in compliance with the approved data standards. This power does not extend to the Crown, the Courts, tribunals or to planning data that relates to ongoing or contemplated legal proceedings.
If a person served with the above-mentioned notice fails to comply with its requirements, and if the RPA considers that the person has no reasonable excuse for the failure, the RPA can serve another notice rejecting all or part of the planning data, as well as requiring additional information or documentation to be, if the RPA considers it appropriate to do so.
If the RPA decides to exercise its power to reject planning data received, the data will be treated as if it had not been provided in the first place. If subsequent planning data is provided in compliance with the requirements set out in the original notice, the RPA may deem it received at the time the first set of planning data, which was initially rejected, was provided.
The LURA explains that planning data regulations may contain provision about how the RPA may exercise its powers in relation to the above, including guidance on requirements for notices (e.g., publication, provision, form, and content), as well as rules on time limits and other procedural matters.
Section 86 of the LURA allows planning data regulations to make provision about RPAs making planning data available to the public under an approved open licence. This type of licence will set out terms and conditions for the free use of the planning data and its form and content will be prescribed by the SoS in a separate document.
However, the RPA need not make data publicly available, where it would mean that the RPA would breach an obligation of confidence or a restriction from publishing the data. It is irrelevant how such restriction is imposed.
The LURA provides, under section 87, that the SoS can make regulations which restrict or prevent RPAs from using or creating a planning data software, e.g., for the provision of planning data, specified in such regulations, but not approved in writing by the SoS.
In relation to copyright, section 88 of the LURA provides that a RPA does not infringe copyright when providing data to any persons, where such provision is for enabling or facilitating the development of planning data software to be submitted for approval or the upgrade, modification, maintenance, or provision of technical support in relation to planning data software which has been approved. In addition, the person to whom the data is made available will not fall foul of copyright infringement, provided it is used for the purposes for which it has been made available.
These digitalisation powers intend to standardise procedures and policies around planning data, which in turn, hope to increase its utility and security. In the government's explanatory notes around the Bill, published in May 2022, the benefits of enhancing digital standards cited include its ability to compare local plan information, resolve cross-boundary matters more efficiently and improving machine-readable data to safeguard conservation areas.