Fergus Charlton, legal director at law firm TLT
To our pleasant surprise, it seems that most councils met the end of year deadline to publish their brownfield land registers.
This is good news. The brownfield land registers are repositories of information on the location of previously developed land that is capable of supporting five dwellings or more, and which the councils consider to be suitable for residential development. This information, stored in Part 1 of the register, ought to prove a useful resource for developers.
The register will assist in the identification of new opportunities, although we expect it to initially be of most benefit to small and medium sized developers. It seems that the larger housebuilders are less keen.
In due course, previously developed land on Part 1 of the register could be placed on Part 2. This is even more helpful as those sites on Part 2 will have the benefit of Permission in Principle, or PiP. Sites with PiP will still have to prepare a technical details consent application for approval before they have full permission.
However, the determination of that application will not involve grappling with the need for housing on that site: that issue will have already been resolved by the grant of PiP. Removing such a significant issue from the decision-making process should increase the certainty of a successful outcome. In turn, this should speed up the determination process and remove some of the application costs.
Some councils, particularly those that were involved in the pilot, are indicating they will begin working on Part 2 of their registers early this year. They are obviously keen to take advantage of the benefits that PiP offers regarding housing delivery
The brownfield land registers will not on their own fix the “broken housing market” and placement on the register may not always be advantageous, but it is hoped that the registers will be useful at the local level, justifying the effort put in to compile them.