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Preliminary London brownfield register expected to be completed by end of 2015

A body set up to ensure that London's surplus public sector land and brownfield sites are used for development is expected to have completed its initial analysis of available sites by the end of the year.23 Jul 2015

UK chancellor George Osborne announced in February that a London Land Commission would be set up to  "identify all the public sector and brownfield land in London" so that suitable sites could be developed to "help London meet its target to deliver 400,000 new homes by 2025".

The government confirmed in its March budget that the Commission had been set up and allocated £1 million to allow it to create a comprehensive database of relevant sites. At the first meeting of the Commission last week, it was announced that estate agency Savills had been appointed "to compile the preliminary stages" of the proposed land database and that the work was expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

According to a statement from the mayor of London's office, the preliminary data will be used to "map the spread of sites across the city". The statement said the Commission, chaired by mayor of London Boris Johnson and housing minister Brandon Lewis, would then "work across layers of government and public bodies to develop strategies for unlocking public land for development" and would "co-ordinate efforts to fast-track the [development] process, whilst ensuring a good return for the taxpayer and better regeneration sites across London".

Planning expert Richard Ford of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com said: "The last time data was sought on London's public sector brownfield land was in 2010 as part of the London component of the National Land Use Database which the The Homes and Communities Agency took over for London after it inherited responsibility from the London Development Agency. That information was incomplete as less than half of Boroughs responded."

"The London Land Commission's work will hopefully bring up to date and determine more clearly how much of London's development need can be provided on public sector brownfield land," he said. "Previous estimates have been that around 50% of housing needs up to 2030 could be met on known brownfield land, both publicly and privately owned."

"That indicated a need for significant greenfield and potential green belt release. It will therefore be interesting to see if the percentage of required development which can be delivered on brownfield land increases significantly as a result of this initiative," he said.

"If it becomes easier to get planning permission for land on the register via the proposed Local Development Order route, it will be interesting to see if boroughs and other public sector bodies flock to register sites to release value or whether some boroughs seek to resist registration in order to try and resist development pressure which may be unpopular locally," said Ford.