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Brownfield Land Registers: A developer’s solution to Britain’s housing crisis?

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By Adrian Price

In the quest to build one million new homes by 2020, the Government is simplifying the process of residential development of brownfield land through the introduction of the Brownfield Land Register.

The Register, regulated under the Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017, requires each of the UK’s local planning authorities (LPA) to identify and publish information on all brownfield sites available and appropriate for residential development by 3 December 2017. Brownfield sites of at least 0.25 hectares or those capable of supporting at least five dwellings will be considered for inclusion on the Register which will provide the public and developers with access to up-to-date information on sites in their area prime for development.

Part 1 of the Register will detail those brownfield sites that an LPA has assessed as appropriate for residential development having regard to the local development plan, national policies and guidance from the Secretary of State. Whilst Part 2 of the Register will detail those sites in Part 1 which the LPA deem suitable for the grant of planning permission in principle having decided to allocate the land for residential purposes and completed the requisite publication, notification and consultation requirements. In essence, Part 2 establishes that the brownfield site is suitable for residential development subject to the detailed assessment of specific development proposals.

Notwithstanding, the additional administrative burden on LPAs first creating and then annually updating the Register, the Register will provide numerous advantages to the public and developers by:

  •  assisting in quickly identifying suitable brownfield sites, thus speeding up the construction of new homes;

  •  attracting increased local investment through the easily accessible register identifying appropriate development sites;

  •  reducing the due-diligence requirements when establishing the viability of a brownfield site for residential development; and

  •  developing unused land which is seen by many as an eyesore.

Whether the Register alone, however, is enough to ensure the Government meets their one million new homes target by 2020 is unlikely, yet the Register does mark real progress in utilising the estimated 66,000 hectares of unused brownfield land and, in doing so, solving one of modern Britain’s biggest problems.

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