New rules ‘encourage building on greenfield’

New Government rules greenfield encourage development by ruling out unexpected "windfall" sites from local authorities' house-building plans, a planning committee has warned.

Unexpected sites for development like small industrial sites, car parks or bus depots going out of use are an important source of brownfield land, and were so far included in development plans.

Excluding such sites will increase reliance on greenfield land when planning for future housing needs, accelerating the rate at which development eats into England’s shrinking area of ‘virgin’ land, said the South East England Regional Assembly’s Planning Committee.

Under the new rules, local councils will be forced to mark out new greenfield areas for development to replace the windfall sites. Once land is allocated Planning Inquiry Inspectors will press forward with development, even in the case of reserve land, the South East England Assembly said.

The new rules included in the PPS3 planning document (Planning Policy Statement 3 on Housing) are behind the change, which the SE England Assembly says will undermine its efforts to achieve a target of siting 60% of its new development on previously used land as set out in the region’s 20-year development plan.

Councillor Christine Field, chairman of the Assembly Regional Planning Committee, said: “The Assembly finds it an unacceptable way of using valuable greenfield land. It should be an exception not the rule.

“Many of our councils will struggle to find other land that is suitable for new homes so they are perversely encouraged to use greenfield land. This will make it more difficult to deliver sustainable communities.”

Goska Romanowicz

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