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CPRE calls for return to 'brownfield first' housing development

Countryside campaign group the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has called for a return to 'brownfield first' planning policies, among a series of measures it has recommended to encourage brownfield housing development.25 Sep 2014

In a paper called "Removing obstacles to brownfield development" (30-page / 3 MB PDF), the CPRE examined obstacles to housing development on brownfield land and recommended a series of "policy mechanisms" it said could be adopted to overcome them.

Among the recommendations in the paper, the CPRE said that "it is essential that national planning policy sets out a sequential approach to land allocation that prioritises brownfield land". Having been adopted by the previous UK government, 'brownfield first' development is no longer required under the national planning policy framework introduced by the present government in 2012.

The report also recommended increased use of "special planning measures and state intervention" in order to help deliver brownfield sites for development. The government should provide financial support to local authorities to fund the legal costs of the use of powers allowing the compulsory purchase of land for development, the CPRE said. The campaign group advised that good practice guidance might encourage the wider use of local development orders, removing the need for planning applications to be made where councils had agreed the premise of development.

The CPRE said that existing government assistance for the remediation of brownfield land was insufficient to encourage developers to take on the risk of being found liable for remediation costs. Existing tax relief, which it was estimated left the developer to absorb "70% of the cost", should be improved, and the state should be quicker to confirm that no further action would be taken following remediation attempts, the report said.

Other recommendations outlined in the report included: the introduction of the use of "tax increment financing", whereby anticipated tax income could be borrowed against in order to finance land remediation and construction costs; and a tax on undeveloped housing sites where planning permission had been granted, to prevent landowners from "sit[ting] on land to benefit from movements in land value".