Housing Minister Gavin Barwell announced recently that Brownfield Registers must be kept by all English local authorities. The new registers will list previously used land suitable for housebuilding, facilitating the development of derelict and underused land for new homes.
It will be the local authorities responsibility to produce and maintain the list, and communities can contribute by highlighting suitable local land to be included in the registers. The Brownfield registers were piloted in 2016 by 73 local authorities.
Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell said: “We need to build more homes in this country so making sure that we re-use brownfield land is crucial.
“We want to bring life back to abandoned sites, create thousands more homes and help protect our valued countryside. These new registers will give local authorities and developers the tools to do this.”
In addition, the registers will be used as a new way of providing planning permission, with ‘Permission in Principle’. As reported in Custom Build Strategy previously, this permissioning will make it easier for developers to deliver housing in places where people want to live.
The Permission in Principle reflects the Government’s focus on speed of delivery, giving developers more certainty over whether a site is suitable for housing prior to the setting up of costly proposals necessary to assess suitability for housing.
Government expects this to encourage new development and increase the demand of land available for housing. Further legislation is expected later this year to support the Permission in Principle in the context of the planning system.
The registers will complement the Custom and Self Build Registers that are now enforce across the country, with the aim at speeding up the deliver of housing. Suitable land has tradtionally been seen as one of the barriers to custom build growth, and these new registers could help remedy this, especially as councils now have a duty to provide serviced plots within three years of residents signing up to the registers.
These registers are further evidence of this cabinet’s commitment to improving and streamlining the delivery of housing. The Permission in Principle will speed up the planning process, but falls short of the Pink Zone approach used in the USA to bring on areas suitable for housing.
Perhaps we need to move to this model in certain cases, where certain areas have planning relaxed, empowering local communities and improving design processes. Take a look at this Centre for Policy Studies Convergence of Interests report for an in-depth look at Pink Zones.