Councils pushed to target brownfield sites for new housing

Thrings Solicitors brownfields sites

Councils across England are being urged to prioritise developing new homes on brownfield land, according to new proposals published by the government this week.

In new proposals from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), announced as part of a new consultation, Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) would be expected to give “significant weight to the benefits of delivering as many homes as possible” whilst remaining flexible around policies and guidance that could support the delivery of new homes on brownfield land.

For the 20 most populous towns and cities in England, which are subject to the 35% ‘urban uplift’ – a change to the standard method for calculating housing need in those areas – the consultation proposes their respective LPAs would be required to favour sustainable development on previously developed land where their Housing Delivery Test score falls to 95% or below.

Making the announcement, Housing Secretary Michael Gove said that the measures would “tackle under delivery” in key towns and cities “without concreting over the countryside”.

The plans have also been welcomed by local government and the development industry with David Thomas, Chief Executive of Barratt Developments calling them a “positive step; LGA spokesperson David Renard suggesting the proposed changes would help ensure “councils and communities are best placed to decide how to build the right homes in the right places in their local areas, with the right infrastructure”; and Simon Carter, Chief Executive of British Land, said it was an “important step towards unlocking the potential of brownfield urban regeneration”.

The consultation closes on Tuesday, 26 March with the government claiming that the resulting changes would be implemented to national planning policy “as soon as possible”.

Kiran Maher from the Thrings Planning and Environment team said: “Developers will no doubt be welcoming these proposals which will help to lift red tape around delivering new homes on previously developed sites.

“A clear effort to tackle perceived slow build-out, the changes are likely to encourage developers to focus on brownfield sites, with the incentive of councils being told to be less bureaucratic when considering schemes on previously developed land.

“Whether or not the issue is more closely aligned to developers waiting for the dust to settle after the General Election later this year is to be seen.”

Thrings’ Planning and Environment lawyers have extensive experience in navigating complex local and national planning policy legislation and has successfully supported commercial and residential applications through the approval and appeal processes. To find out more and for advice on your development proposals, including how to address enforcement notices, please do get in touch.

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