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Planning for the future – Brownfield development

The Planning White Paper issued on 6 August contains new initiatives to encourage re-use of brownfield sites.

Densification is the buzz word here as the policy paper states that its aim is to secure the most effective use of land to ensure that housing targets (assessed via the proposed standard method) are met.

The Barriers to Brownfield Development 

The costs of redeveloping brownfield land can be prohibitive. These are not just the costs involved in removing derelict buildings, hazards and obstacles on site, but those de-contamination costs which The government has pledged £400m towards a ‘Brownfield Land Fund’.Estimating the cost of remediating brownfield land so that it can be used for development is a complex process and it would be interesting to see the formula used to generate the figure allocated to the fund and also the mechanism by which monies from the fund will be allocated to sites in need of remediation.

We have yet to see any evidence that monies have yet been awarded from this Fund and it is difficult to assess just how much of an impact it will have in practice.

The Proposals

As and when the quantity of homes needed within a local planning authority’s (“LPAs”), administrative area has been determined, it will be that authority’s responsibility to work out how best to accommodate them “through a combination of intensification and densification of brownfield land, regeneration of former commercial sites and under-used sites such as car parks, through well-planned new settlements and urban expansions”.

In growth areas, existing legislation governing simplified planning zones, enterprise zones and brownfield land registers will be consolidated.

‘Permissions in Principle’ and the brownfield land register have been with us since 2017. The policy paper and associated consultation advocate an extension to the permission in principle/technical approval form of consent, with proposals to remove the current bar on ‘major residential development’ (defined as schemes of ten or more homes).

The consultation expressly states that a permission in principle application will not, in practice, be a route to consent being granted for large sites that will deliver more than 150 dwellings or where the site is over five hectares.

Further the consultation states that the brownfield register system will be subject to further review once new local plans, produced in line with what is envisaged within the policy paper, have been adopted.


This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022.


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