Government proposes penalties for councils ‘under-performing’ on brownfield LDOs

Planning Portal February 2015

English councils which fail to demonstrate they are deploying local development orders (LDOs) to bring forward housing development on a sufficient number of brownfield sites will face being designated as ‘under-performing’ planning authorities under Government proposals just announced.

This move would involve primary legislation and would mean extending the current arrangements which relate to the speed and quality of decisions on major applications.

Under this plan councils could be designated as ‘under-performing ‘ where they cannot meet the objective of bringing forward sufficient coverage of LDOs on brownfield land suitable for new housing or where councils failed to provide sufficient evidence that the objective is being met.

A consultation document published last week makes proposals for identifying suitable brownfield sites, sharing data about the availability of land and for measuring progress towards the target of getting LDOs in place on over 90 per cent of brownfield land suitable for housing by 2020.

Councils would be required to publish data about available brownfield land on their websites in a standardised form, enabling individuals and groups to “assess and, if necessary, challenge the inclusion or exclusion of particular sites as brownfield land suitable for housing”.

The data would be required to be updated at least once a year and would include all brownfield sites capable of supporting five or more new homes “available for development and not subject to severe physical, environmental or policy constraints incapable of being viably mitigated”.

Councils which failed to put LDOs in place on 50 per cent of suitable brownfield sites by 2017 and 90 per cent of suitable sites by 2020 would face being designated as ‘under-performing’.

Designation would allow applications for the development of five or more homes on brownfield land to be submitted directly to the Communities Secretary.

As an alternative to designating councils as underperforming, the government has proposed that planning authorities failing to meet the LDO target “would be unable to claim the existence of an up-to-date five-year housing supply when considering applications for brownfield development”.

This would mean that “the presumption in favour of sustainable development [under the National Planning Policy Framework] would apply” the Department for Communities and Local Government said.

Alongside the consultation document, the Government has published an invitation for councils to bid for a share of £4.4m towards the costs involved in delivering LDOs.”

New Classification for Housing Land Pitched

RICS Property Journal December 2014

RICS has proposed a new land classification, ‘amberfield’, as a solution to the UK’s chronic housing shortage. Set out in the September 2014 Property In Politics report, the proposal follows consultation with members across the country to give recommendations to the major political parties in the run up to the 2015 general election (see panel).

Among a raft of recommendations the report signposts the introduction of a land classification between green and brownfield, creating a pipeline of ‘ready to go’ land, increasing housing supply and promoting development opportunities.

Under the RICS proposals, local authorities and communities will have to work together to label sites favourable for development as amberfield, with each local plan including a set quota, ready to be developed for housing. The quota is expected to be set between 30% and 50% but the framework and guidelines would be open to consultation.

Amberfield sites would have to be developed within five years and therefore local authorities will be required to approve planning consent within a set timeframe, or risk being classed as ‘failing’ under the RICS proposed assessment. The new classification would create a five-year land supply that works for communities and builders. The community will have better understanding of the planning process, more control over what is built and where, and be able to see the long-term development plan.

While brownfield and Greenfield play an important role in the current planning system, both classifications block or slow development, while local growth is being impeded by extensive battles to bring forward land. Amberfield will speed up the process and take out costs for both developers and local authorities, enabling homes to be built faster on the agreed sites. It will provide increased certainty to investors and will also encourage local infrastructure investment.

The review of land classification, coupled with the other RICS recommendations – including development delivery units and a nationwide housing zones programme – will cut through the bureaucratic barriers, speed up housing delivery and encourage co-operation across local authority boundaries by stitching together regions.

The report is a result of the largest consultation ever undertaken by RICS. It represents and engagement with property professionals across England by sharing insight into the biggest challenges facing industry and focusing proactively on what actions and future government should take to remedy them.