Government commits to Brownfield Development
14 July 2015
The new Conservative Government has pledged to protect the green belt and laid plans such that brownfield land will be used “as much as possible”. Local authorities will be required to have “a register of what is available” and ensure that “90 per cent of suitable brownfield sites have planning permission for housing by 2020”.
Brownfield development sites are usually advantageously located near to existing facilities and regional centres of employment where housing is much needed. Redevelopment of these sites, by taking derelict and often contaminated land back into public use, meets many sustainable development criteria and can lead to long term economic benefits for local communities.
However, remediation can be expensive and often this makes such sites uneconomic for development. Contaminants in the ground may be difficult to deal with and provide long term liabilities for developers with unforeseen ground conditions leading to substantial increases in the cost and programme of the project. The proximity of local residents may make site work difficult and impose restrictions on working hours and construction methods.
To help deal with these issues the Government has committed to a £1 billion Brownfield Regeneration Fund designed to unlock the construction of homes. Introduction of a potential planning change includes a new ’zonal’ system which will give automatic planning permission in principle on all suitable brownfield sites, removing unnecessary delays to development and go some way towards meeting the supply of land for homes so desperately needed across the country.
Financing to help start the ball rolling is key to unlocking the development potential of many sites and in this respect the Government is making money available through the Local Enterprise Partnerships, working with local business to identify the most appropriate development schemes; £400M shall be made available towards twenty new housing zones on brownfield land in London and a further £200M for a further ten housing zones outside London; for existing housing a £150M loan will be ring-fenced to encourage the regeneration of deprived social housing estates.
The effectiveness of the measures above have yet to be proven but VHE will be closely monitoring the movements in the market to help developers and land owners identify funding opportunities and achieve the maximum cost efficiency in the development of brownfield sites.