Idly watching the Parliament Channel last week, I saw the housing minister Dominic Raab speaking at a select committee meeting about Brownfield Sites. He explained that the Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017 required local planning authorities in England to prepare, maintain and publish registers of previously developed (brownfield) land by 31 December 2017. It was stated that some 90% of local authorities have now published a register of such sites. So I went on line and had a look at my local authority’s.
Brownfield land registers will provide up-to-date and consistent information on sites that local authorities consider to be appropriate for residential development having regard to the criteria set out in regulation 4 of the Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017. Local planning authorities will be able to trigger a grant of permission in principle for residential development for sites in their registers where they follow the required procedures. Registers will be in two parts, Part 1 will comprise all brownfield sites appropriate for residential development and Part 2 those sites granted permission in principle. Registers should be published locally as open data and will provide transparent information about suitable and available sites.
The Local Plan for my home area, Bradford, is at the critical stage with continuing arguments over housing numbers still going on. An examination of the Strategic Housing Land Allocation Assessment (SHLAA) is to commence later this year. The Brownfield Sites Register is a useful document as it can highlight potential sites, some of which have been vacant for a long time which could be used for house building. There are hundreds of sites listed. We shall be scrutinising the register and map carefully. It’s important that we use up brownfield sites before green field and green belt land.
A cursory glance at the register shows that a number of sites have already been discounted by planners. Additionally, in some cases, the site owner is not known or is not making their intentions clear. The ownership, at least, should be in the public domain, via the Land Registry. Some sites have lapsed planning applications, sometimes for hundreds of homes.
Other societies who have problems with housing numbers might find it useful to check out the Brownfield Site Registers in their areas and investigate what is happening to the sites listed.