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Brownfield Development: No Retrospective Permissions

by Paul Addison on November 2, 2015 No comments

Proposals to grant permission in principle for new homes on land designated in local and neighbourhood plans will apply only to site allocations in future plans and not retrospectively, a government impact assessment has confirmed.

The Housing and Planning Bill, published earlier this month, fleshes out the pledge in chancellor George Osborne’s July Fixing the Foundations productivity plan, to grant “automatic permission in principle” for brownfield sites registered by town halls as suitable for housing.

The impact assessment, produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government, said that based on the number of applications granted for major development in 2014-15 “the maximum number of sites that could benefit from the proposals could amount to 7,000 a year”.

The document highlighted that data on brownfield land was “out of date and of poor quality”. The department noted that the most recent data published by DCLG was in 2011 based on local authority returns to the National Land use Database in 2010.

This has led to assertion by the Campaign for Rural England that brownfield land could account for up to 1 million new homes, which the Government has dismissed as “wildly optimistic”

The bill proposes that, as well as granting permission in principle to sites on new brownfield registers, this status would be extended to sites allocated in local plans and neighbourhood plans.Under the proposed mechanism, permission in principle would be followed by an application to agree the technical details of a scheme before the applicant can start work on site.

An alternative route for obtaining permission in principle for small builders – via consent granted in response to an application – would be limited to minor housing schemes, involving the creation fewer than ten units. 

The impact assessment says the government expects savings for applicants to be “significant”. It adds that permission in principle “will remove the risk for applicants that a proposal is refused on grounds of the site being unsuitable”. It says: “We expect that applicants will benefit from savings as a result of paying planning application costs on fewer unsuccessful applications.”

The legislation is due its Second Reading in the Commons in early November when MPs will have their first chance to debate the measures.

Spotting the Brownfield Plot Risks

The decision in principle for small sites going forward highlights an especially significant for home buyers in urban areas. Development of boutique style infill developments on brownfield pockets of land could get a favourable hearing.

This means that while that patch of wasteland would be a thing of the past, it is replaced by the prospect of a block of apartments staring across at you instead.

A DevAssess report picks out those pockets of land to see which is most favoured for such developments, where there have been outline permissions or schemes that could pose an imminent risk for home buyers.

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Paul AddisonBrownfield Development: No Retrospective Permissions

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