Ellie Ames 14 February 2024

‘Brownfield first’ reforms unveiled

‘Brownfield first’ reforms unveiled image
Image: philip openshaw / Shutterstock.com

Councils in England will be told to prioritise brownfield development and be ‘less bureaucratic’ in their approach to building on previously developed land.

Planning authorities in England’s 20 largest cities and towns will also be made to follow a ‘brownfield presumption’ if housebuilding drops below expected levels.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said its ‘major shake-up’ of planning rules, announced yesterday, would ‘boost housebuilding while protecting the green belt’.

Shadow housing minister Matthew Pennycook said in a post on X (formerly Twitter): ‘No one contests the need to prioritise brownfield housebuilding. But urban authorities rejecting brownfield applications is not what’s standing in the way of more such development.

‘The issue is the costs associated with meeting requirements on brownfield sites and a new brownfield planning presumption won't do anything to address that issue.’

The ‘brownfield first’ approach was taken from a review of the London Plan – a major intervention by housing secretary Michael Gove into the capital’s housing delivery.

Under the new proposals, permitted development rights would also be extended so commercial buildings of any size can be converted into new homes.

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) warned that permitted development rights have had ‘mixed results’, often creating poor quality homes with little access to essential amenities.

RTPI chief executive Victoria Hills also said: ‘While we have always welcomed the emphasis of development on brownfield, the minor adjustments to England’s planning system made today will not support the system at large to tackle the challenge of increasing housing supply.’

The Government will consult on its proposals until the end of March before seeking to implement them ‘as soon as possible’.

Addressing regional inequalities  image

Addressing regional inequalities

Andrew Borland, Chief Innovation Officer at the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), University of Liverpool discusses the importance of levelling up for growth.
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