Back to top
Last revised May 22, 2015


Localism Act 2011

The Localism Act was passed on November 15 2011. The full document is available here.

A plain English guide to Decentralisation and the Localism Act has been published by the Department of Communities and Local Government. It is available here.

Localism Act 2011 background information

The purpose of the Act was to give:

  • new freedoms and flexibilities for local government
  • new rights and powers for communities and individuals
  • reform to make the planning system more democratic and more effective
  • reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally

The proposals covered the following:

New freedoms and flexibility for local Government

  • General power of competence
    The Localism Bill includes a “general power of competence.” It will give local authorities the legal capacity to do anything that an individual can do that is not specifically banned by other laws: they will not, for example, be able to impose new taxes, as other laws make clear they cannot.
  • Abolition of the Standards Board
    In the Localism Bill, the Government will abolish the Standards Board regime. Instead, it will become a criminal offence for councillors to deliberately withhold or misrepresent a personal interest.
  • Clarifying the rules on predetermination
    The Localism Bill will make it clear that it is proper for councillors to play an active part in local discussions, and that they should not be liable to legal challenge as a result.
  • Directly elected mayors
    The Localism Bill will give more cities the opportunity to decide whether they want a mayor.
  • London
    The Localism Bill will pass greater powers over housing and regeneration to local democratically elected representatives in London.

New rights and powers for Communities

  • Community right to challenge
    The Localism Bill will give these groups the right to express an interest in taking over the running of a local service. The local authority must consider and respond to this challenge.
  • Community right to bid
    Proposals in the Localism Bill will require local authorities to maintain a list of assets of community value. Communities will have the opportunity to nominate for possible inclusion the assets that are most important to them.When listed assets come up for sale or change of ownership, community groups will have time to develop a bid and raise the money to buy the asset when it comes on the open market.
  • Local referendums
    The Localism Bill will give local people the right to suggest votes on any local issue that they think is important.
  • Right to veto excessive Council Tax rises
    The Secretary of State and the House of Commons will agree on a “ceiling” for Council Tax rises. If a local authority proposes to raise taxes faster than this rate, local people will have the right to approve or to veto the rise in a referendum.

Reform to make the planning system clearer, more democratic and more effective

  • Abolition of regional strategies
  • Neighbourhood planning
    Neighbourhood planning will allow people to come together through a local parish council or neighbourhood forum and say where they think new houses, businesses and shops should go – and what they should look like.
  • Community right to build
    As part of neighbourhood planning, the Bill will give groups of local people the ability to bring forward small developments. These might include new homes, businesses and shops.
  • Requirement to consult communities before submitting very large planning applications
    To further strengthen the role of local communities in planning, the Bill will introduce a new requirement for developers to consult local communities before submitting planning applications for very large developments.
  • Strengthening enforcement rules
    The Localism Bill will strengthen planning authorities’ powers to tackle abuses of the planning system, such as making deliberately misleading planning applications.
  • Reforming the community infrastructure levy
    The Localism Bill proposes changes to the levy to make it more flexible. It will allow the money raised to be spent on maintaining infrastructure, as well as building new infrastructure. It will give local authorities greater freedom in setting the rate that developers should pay in different areas. And crucially, the Bill will give the Government the power to require that some of the money raised goes directly to the neighbourhoods where development takes place.This will help ensure that the people who say “yes” to new development feel the benefit of that decision.
  • Reform the way local plans are made
    The Localism Bill will limit the discretion of planning inspectors to insert their own wording into local plans. It will also ensure that rather than focusing on reporting plans’ progress to central government, authorities focus on reporting progress to local communities.
    Duty to cooperateThe duty will require local authorities and other public bodies to work together on planning issues.
  • Nationally significant infrastructure projects
    The Localism Bill will abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission and restore its responsibility for taking decisions to Government Ministers.

Reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally

  • Social housing tenure reform
  • Social housing allocations reform
  • Reform of homelessness legislation
  • Reform of council housing finance
  • National Homeswap Scheme
  • Reform of social housing regulation

Links to advice on the provisions of the Localism Act

Planning Portal page: Description on the provisions in the Localism Act 2011 for Neighbourhood Planning, the Community right to build, Community Infrastructure Levy and the New Homes Bonus scheme.

Advice on Neighbourhood Planning under the Localism Act

read more here