An e-petition is being circulated by 38 Degrees on the Infrastructure Bill on publicly-owned land. The petition is completely untrue and has no basis in fact.
Contrary to the claims, the changes in the Bill have nothing to do with the local authority planning system and make absolutely no change to the existing requirements for planning permission.
Rather the changes relate to a technical point of land law, ensuring that people who buy surplus or redundant public sector property from the Homes and Communities Agency have the same powers as those who buy from certain other public bodies.
Some public bodies, like local authorities, have long been able to override easements and covenants affecting their land, and people who buy property from them have also been able to do the same. The changes seek to put the Homes and Communities Agency, Mayoral Development Corporations and the Greater London Authority on the same long-standing basis that local authorities, housing action trusts and urban development corporations already operate within. The predecessor to the Homes and Communities Agency (English Partnerships) also had these legal powers, but the 2008 Act which created the Homes and Communities Agency unintentionally did not pass across those rights. This provision in the Bill simply corrects this oversight.
No property will be transferred to the Homes and Communities Agency without the consent of the government department or agency that owns it, and only property that has been classified as surplus will be eligible for transfer.
The aim is to remove excessive bureaucracy to make it easier for more new homes to be built on brownfield land.
The Public Forest Estate is not affected by these changes. The government has said that the estate will not be sold off, and it stands by that commitment.