Further to the Chancellor’s Summer Budget on Wednesday, the Government has today introduced its simply named “The Productivity Plan”, which highlights the importance of increasing housebuilding and the construction industry.

The main highlights of the Plan include:

  • Sites in the planned statutory registers of brownfield land suitable for housing will automatically be allocated planning permission.
  • A proposed new deadline for Councils to have their new Local Plans in place.
  • Councils will be encouraged by a threat of “special measures” if they fail to decide minor application within the required timescales (usually eight weeks).
  • A new dispute resolution scheme (DRS) has been proposed for Section 106 Agreements, specifically to speed up negotiations.
  • Devolution of certain powers to London and in the future Manchester, “giving them the tools to drive forward complex, brownfield developments”.
  • Permitted Development allowed in London to “build up” existing dwellings to provide further accommodation up to the height of an adjoining building without the need to apply for planning permission.
  • Further Permitted Development to extend the height of mobile masts in both protected and non-protected areas in England.

The most interesting part of this Plan is the brownfield land automatic planning permission idea. It is proposed that automatic planning permission would be granted to all suitable brownfield sites under a new zonal system.

Brownfield land is really an undefined term however the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defines “previously development land” as:

“Land which is or was occupied by a permanent structure, including the curtilage of the developed land (although it should not be assumed that the whole of the curtilage should be developed) and any associated fixed surface infrastructure. This excludes: land that is or has been occupied by agricultural or forestry buildings; land that has been developed for minerals extraction or waste disposal by landfill purposes where provision for restoration has been made through development control procedures; land in built-up areas such as private residential gardens, parks, recreation grounds and allotments; and land that was previously-developed but where the remains of the permanent structure or fixed surface structure have blended into the landscape in the process of time.”

It is undeniable that brownfield land is becoming ever more valuable, however it will remain integral that proposed sites are sustainably located for future residential or commercial development. It is important to note that the brownfield land idea is aimed at urban sites and many of the important qualifying conditions are yet to be released. As always, the devil is in the detail!

Overall, this Productivity Plan is a push in the right direction for the planning sector, however we should not get too excited until more information is available. We were a little surprised that more permitted development rights were not announced, however this may signal a second planning release later in the year.

Contact Patrick Durr Associates to find out more.