Major developers welcome reforms to brownfield regeneration


Every council in England must prioritise brownfield developments under a reform to planning rules designed to increase housebuilding.   

Housing secretary, Michael Gove, said today (13 February) local authorities across the country must be “less bureaucratic” about permitting new houses to be built on brownfield land. 

He added the bar for refusing plans will be far higher, and planning authorities in England’s 20 largest cities and towns that fail to hit their housing targets (95 per cent) will be made to follow a ‘brownfield presumption’ edict. 

Areas where there is the highest demand for new housing and existing infrastructure to support it will be prioritised, such as in London. 

In its manifesto in 2019, the UK Government set out a housebuilding target of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.   

“These reforms will further support developers aiming to undertake major regeneration on brownfield sites, giving them more certainty by ensuring their plans are not unnecessarily blocked or held up by red tape,” said the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).   

Adding: “Legislation laid in Parliament today will extend current permitted development rights (PDR), so that commercial buildings of any size will have the freedom to be converted into new homes – this means shops, offices, and other buildings all quickly repurposed, resulting in thousands of quality new homes by 2030.” 

In response to today’s announcement, however, Construction Products Association (CPA) economics director, Noble Francis, said: “Note that given the collapse in house building over the past 12-18 months, the resulting loss of skilled construction labour and materials capacity plus the offsite construction firms that have gone under, even 300,000 homes per year will not be possible for many years.” 

consultation on these changes to national planning policy opened today and will run until 26 March. 

Many major developers welcomed the new reforms.  

David Thomas, chief executive, Barratt Developments, said: “We welcome any efforts to make it easier to get planning permission, particularly for brownfield regeneration which is already naturally a more complicated and capital-intensive process.  

“Industry and local and national government need to work together to find ways of delivering more new homes more quickly, including on previously developed land, and this is a positive step.” 

Stephen Teagle, chief executive, Countryside Partnerships, Vistry Group, said: “There is an urgent need to address the crisis of a long-term undersupply of new homes and these changes, making the best use of urban brownfield land and supporting pragmatic determination of planning applications, is key so that we can get building. 

“We stand ready to deliver new mixed tenure homes and communities to provide the most basic of human need – a safe and secure home.” 

Mr Gove said: “Today marks another important step forward in our Long-Term Plan for Housing, taking a brownfield first approach to deliver thousands of new homes where people want to live and work, without concreting over the countryside. 

“Our new brownfield presumption will tackle under delivery in our key towns and cities – where new homes are most needed to support jobs and drive growth.” 

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