Local Authority Innovation and Capacity Fund launched (March 2022)

The new Minister for Housing and Planning at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has written to NIPA’s Board Chair, Jan Bessell, to draw our attention to the launch of an Innovation and Capacity Fund for local authorities participating in the NSIPs regime.

In our December 2021 consultation response to the consultation on reforming the regime NIPA noted “The Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) regime is deliberately and purposefully front loaded, but experience shows that many statutory bodies do not have the resources to allow them to meaningfully engage in the process, particularly at the pre-application stage. When the regime was established it was assumed that the financial burden on statutory bodies, including local authorities, would be minimal but in practice this has clearly not been the case and is an obstacle to collaborative planning and better outcomes.” We went on to call for a clearer approach to Planning Performance Agreements.

The Government has recognised capacity and capability issues in the critical local authority function and the new Innovation and Capacity Fund is an opportunity for local authorities to apply
for funding of up to £100,000 to help them in dealing with NSIP applications to address the issues and challenges they face as key users of the system. The Government is inviting local authorities to consider ways in which their role in the NSIPs process could be improved or done differently to help drive better, greener and faster delivery of NSIPs. The deadline for expressions of interest is 8 April 2022.

More information can be found here.

Members are encouraged to bring the opportunity to the attention of local authorities they are working with.

This is the first output of the ongoing NSIPs reform programme and we can expect later this Spring more proposals for reform to the NSIPs regime.