Brownfield Land Register – An Opportunity for Landowners and Developers

Policy Update
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The Government has issued guidance to support local planning authorities in preparing and publishing Brownfield Land Registers (BLR). Updates made on 28 July 2017 to the National Planning Practice Guidance also provide further information about permission in principle – a new route to planning permission.

Local planning authorities are expected to compile a register of brownfield land that is suitable for residential development by 31 December 2017.   The new BLR will comprise two parts:

–  Part 1 will list previously developed land with an area of at least 0.25ha, (or land which is capable of supporting at least 5 dwellings) that is ‘suitable’ and ‘available’ for residential development, and where residential development is ‘achievable’.  Where sites meet the relevant criteria they must be included in Part 1 regardless of their planning status i.e. sites that already have an extant planning permission for development that has not been implemented can be included.

In making their assessment local planning authorities should have regard to:

(a) the development plan;

(b) national policies and advice;

(c) any guidance issued by the Secretary of State

–  Part 2 will comprise only those sites in Part 1 which the local planning authority has decided would be suitable for a grant of ‘permission in principle’ for residential development.

The permission in principle consent route has 2 stages: the first stage (or permission in principle stage) establishes whether a site is suitable in principle for residential development, and the second (‘technical details consent’) stage is when the detailed development proposals are assessed.  The idea is that the scope of permission in principle is limited to location, land use and the amount of development. These ‘in principle’ matters are separated from the associated technical issues to give developers more certainty and reduce delays.

Local planning authorities are required to consider the suitability of all relevant sites on their brownfield land registers for a grant of permission in principle, taking into account relevant policies in the development plan and other material considerations. New sites can be entered in Part 2 at any time, providing the procedures for reviewing sites on the register have been followed.

BRLs certainly present an opportunity for landowners and developers to promote brownfield sites for housing via an alternative route.  Many authorities will be keen to publish their BLRs given the December deadline is fast approaching.  While putting a site forward for inclusion on Part 1 of a BRL will require the submission of some supporting information to secure reference to an appropriate scale of development, any submission is likely to be much less onerous than the often substantial amounts of information required as part of an outline planning application.  Inclusion of a site in Part 1 would also not prevent a planning application or local plan allocation being pursued at the same time, or at a later date.

If you would like to discuss a specific brownfield site or any of the above, please feel free to contact one of the Firstplan team.  The Government guidance on BLRs can be found here and the guidance on Permission in Principle can be found here.