Its plans, which it is now consulting on, follow chancellor George Osborne's annual Mansion House speech in June last year, in which he announced proposals to require local authorities to earmark brownfield sites for housing development and to ease planning restrictions at these sites using LDOs.
In its consultation document (22-page/ 409 KB PDF), the government outlined its proposals for the identification of brownfield land suitable for housing development; for sharing data about the availability of land; and for measuring progress towards a target of getting LDOs in place on over 90% of brownfield land suitable for housing by 2020.
It proposed that councils should be required to publish data about available brownfield land on their websites in a standardised form, enabling individuals and groups to "assess and, if necessary, challenge the inclusion or exclusion of particular sites as brownfield land suitable for housing".
The data would be required to be updated at least once a year under the proposals and would include all brownfield sites capable of supporting five or more new homes, available for development, and not subject to severe physical, environmental or policy constraints incapable of being viably mitigated.
In order to encourage local authorities to ensure suitable sites are brought forward for development, the government also proposed to designate as underperforming all councils which failed to put LDOs in place on 50% of suitable brownfield sites by 2017 and 90% of suitable sites by 2020. Designation would allow applications for the development of five or more homes on brownfield land to be submitted directly to the secretary of state for communities and local government, the consultation document said.
As an alternative to designating councils as underperforming, the government has proposed that those failing to meet the LDO target "would be unable to claim the existence of an up-to-date five year housing supply when considering applications for brownfield development". This would mean that "the presumption in favour of sustainable development [under the National Planning Policy Framework] would apply", it said.
Alongside the consultation document, the government published an invitation for councils to bid for a share of £4.4 million (11-page / 391 KB PDF) towards the costs involved in delivering LDOs. The fund will provide grants of up to £50,000 to councils committing to prepare and consult on draft LDOs for the delivery of at least 100 homes on brownfield land by December 2015, and put the LDOs in place by March 2016.
Consultation responses and bids must be received by 11 March.