Government introduces ‘Permission in Principle’
On 15th and 16th April, new procedures were introduced by the Government which will hopefully help developers identify suitable sites quickly, speed up the construction of new homes and maximise the number of new homes built on suitable brownfield land.
The Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 will grant ‘permission in principle’ which is similar to an outline planning permission, where approval is then only needed for details, but with the opportunity to secure any required mitigation and infrastructure contributions.
The Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017 includes a requirement for local authorities to produce and maintain up-to-date registers listing all brownfield sites available for housing. All Brownfield Land Registers must be up and running and available to view by the public by December 2017.
Land eligible for inclusion in the register must be at least 0.25 hectares in area or capable of supporting at least 5 dwellings, it must be ‘suitable’, ‘available’ and ‘achievable’ for residential development. If the land is entered in Part 2 of the Brownfield Land Register, the Permission in Principle Order grants it ‘permission in principle’, which establishes the suitability, in principle, of brownfield land for housing-led development.
Four Black Country Local Authority areas, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton already have Brownfield Land Registers in place as they were part of the Government’s Pilot scheme first introduced in March 2016.
Decisions about the suitability of sites to enter on registers will be for local planning authorities having regard to national and local policy and will be informed by the well established Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment process. The new procedures appear to be a useful tool for facilitating the development of brownfield sites, in particular for housing, by providing certainty for developers and investors. At present, the procedure is to be used for brownfield land but the Government intends to publish an order for ‘permissions in principle’ based on local and neighbourhood plans separately.
Whilst it remains to be seen how effective these new planning provisions will be in delivering new housing across the country, it’s clear there will be real opportunities for landowners to bring forward brownfield sites