'Councils face losing powers for not using brownfield sites' In their role as local planning authorities, will be penalised if they do not meet yearly targets on fast-tracking brownfield sites for dev: Inside Housing.CO.UK News
29 January 2015 | By Daniel Douglas
The government plans to take away councils’ planning powers if they fail to use enough local development orders to boost the building of homes on brownfield land.
Councils, in their role as local planning authorities, will be penalised if they do not meet yearly targets on fast-tracking brownfield sites for development
A government consultation, launched yesterday, proposes using ‘local development orders’ – a way of speeding up planning permission on sites – to catalyse house building on brownfield sites. The government wants 9 out of 10 suitable brownfield sites to have a local development order in place by 2020.
Councils that do not meet this target will be found to be ‘under-performing’, meaning developers can submit applications directly to the Planning Inspectorate, going over the head of the council.
An alternative proposal is that councils not meeting the target will be ‘unable to claim the existence of an up to date five year supply of land for housing’, meaning that, under the National Planning Policy Framework, the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ kicks in, again allowing developers to push through development more easily.
The government says that there is enough suitable brownfield land available to build 200,000 homes. The Department for Communities and Local Government in August launched a £5m fund for councils to use to put local development orders in place for brownfield sites. The DCLG was unable to confirm how much of this fund has been allocated.
Some experts warn that this places another burden on overwhelmed planning departments and may take resources away from more important strategic planning.
Sarah Davis, policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: ‘A concern we have is that the drive for this use of brownfield sites, while welcome, may take focus and resources off the bigger picture.
‘It may be a potential problem if it means local planning authorities losing sight of the bigger issues of suitability of sites regarding all of the questions around infrastructure, urban planning, capacity of local resources and so on.’
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: ‘We are slightly concerned that, as local authorities are so lacking in resources right now, it is going to be difficult for them to implement this policy.’
The consultation runs until 11 March.