Salford, Greater Manchester, is leading the way in terms of brownfield development with a recent report from its council showing that 87.9% of new homes were built on brownfield land, writes property developer Richard Carr.
Middlewood Locks in Salford
Richard Carr believes that councils and home builders should target brownfield land before looking at green belt land for developments. Building upon disused brownfield land can regenerate communities and bring life into areas that was suffering economically.
Salford City Council’s report covered the period between April 1 2015 and March 31 2016. The result is pleasing one for the council who have encouraged developers to use brownfield sites as far as possible.
Councillor Derek Antrobus told salfordonline.com: “Salford needs new homes and we need as many as possible to be built on brownfield sites. This not only eases pressure on green spaces but it means new homes are built closer to existing jobs, schools and shops.
It had been speculated that EU directives and European-derived regulations would no longer exist in the UK following the country’s decisions to leave the European Union, however lawyers and ecologists have suggested that they are likely to remain.
Brexit doesn’t mean an end to EU regulations
Currently, developers and planners have to take into account wildlife protection and air quality limits during planning applications, however many of those regulations were introduced by the EU.
Despite this, lawyers have insisted that developers would still have to comply with European-derived regulations which augment the planning system like environmental impact assessment (EIA), air quality limits and habitats protection.
“Many of these will be extremely difficult to unpick, and some reflect international treaty obligations, so are likely to remain, even when the UK finally leaves” said Angus Walker, a senior partner at law firm BDB.
Local authorities grip on Green Belt land is getting weaker and weaker by the minute as new research suggests that the number of homes being built on Green Belt land is set to soar over the coming years, writes property consultant Richard Carr.
Can anyone stop green belt development?
Green Belt development policy is slowly abating as the government responds to the growing housing crisis. An increasing number of loopholes in planning guidance are being found, whilst local councils find themselves under increasing pressure from the government to release Green Belt land for new development through an ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause.
The claims have been made in a report published by free market think-tank the Adam Smith Institute who stated that allowing homes to be built on green belt golf courses could meet half of London’s demand for housing.
A Garden of Ones’ Own published by the Institute said that large amounts of green belt was land was dedicated to golf across London and the Home Counties.
Furthermore, it claimed that 1 million homes are needed within the metropolitan green belt. It believes that a density of 50 unites per hectare, meaning 20,000 hectares of land would be needed to meet the current void.
Strengthening the presumption in favour of ‘starter home’ developments is one of a raft of changes to be implemented as part of a new national planning policy, writes Development Specialist Richard Carr.
Increasing the density of development around commuter hubs
Supporting sustainable new settlements and helping development on brownfield land and small sites
Helping the delivery of housing allocated in plans
Promoting and aiding the delivery of starter homes
If Ministers get the go-ahead, they plan on introducing a statutory requirement which would see a number of ‘starter homes’ delivered on all reasonably-sized housing developments. Another change would see the widening of low-cost homes to fall within the definition of affordable housing.
Property specialist Richard Carr believes that the number of taxes placed on developers is affecting the number of homes being built and is now pleased to see that the Federation of Small Business (FSB) has spoken out about the issue.
Costing the economy
Should CIL be dropped on social housing projects?
A report commissioned by the FSB explains that local planning authorities could be costing small house building firms millions of pounds in revenue. Like Richard, the FSB believe taxes such as the Community Infrastructure Levy should be blocked to prevent viable housing projects not being built at a time when the country has a big void to fill.
Small firms typically take on projects of 10 units of less and compared to larger developments they had significantly higher basic building costs. The FSB’s report found that the council wasn’t taking this into account when working out the level of CIL to be paid by developers.
The Wildlife and Countryside network, which encompasses 44 voluntary organisations, say that whilst most brownfield development doesn’t come with negative impacts: “small but important number of sites are hugely valuable for both people and wildlife”.
In the network’s report they say that local authorities should: ““encourage the effective use of land by reusing land that has been previously developed (brownfield land), provided that it is not of high environmental value.
Richard Carr, who works for Poole-based Fortitudo Property, believes developers and local councils should concentrate on redeveloping brownfield sites, instead of pushing communities further into greenbelt land.
The BBC’s report detailed worrying figures, which in Richard’s opinion shows that local planning authorities don’t have the resources to do their job correctly.
The number of new homes being approved on greenbelt land in the last year has doubled. In 2009 – 10 planning permission was granted for 2,258 homes, whilst in 2014 – 15 the figure rose to 11,977.
The government has said in the past that looking after greenbelt land was high on its agenda, but it now seems that it’s passing the matter of what land is being developed on over to local planning authorities.
The industry should focus on redeveloping brownfield sites according to Richard Carr
Richard Carr, a Commercial and Residential Development Specialist, is pleased to see the government trying to encourage brownfield development. He believes building taller on unused sites has the potential to regenerate communities across the UK.
The country’s government are keen to keep development away from the ‘green belt’ and Richard believes this latest piece of guidance delivered by the chancellor George Osborne once again reaffirms their policy.
His final budget before this year’s general election outlined plans for a consultation on changes to the compulsory purchase system; he also stated his desire to update guidance and provide a web resource for developers, similar to how planning guidance has moved online.
Richard Carr, a Commercial and Residential Development Specialist, believes that ‘streetwise’ developers are putting the country’s beautiful countryside at risk.
Councils being forced into approving planning
Richard Carr has regularly used his website to voice his opinion that developers shouldn’t look to build on ‘green belt’ land. In his opinion, UK councils and developers should look to regenerate communities by developing on unused brownfield sites.
However, recent research from the nationaltrust.org has found that some developers are ’gaming’ the planning system to get housing estates built on Greenfield sites.
The UK’s idyllic countryside is what makes living in rural areas of the country so appealing. It attracts huge amounts of tourism every year and Richard Carr strongly believes that such locations shouldn’t be spoilt by housing estates and the infrastructure that goes with them.