Wednesday, March 16, 2016

News: Rotherham put forward for brownfield pilot

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Having been denied a policy to promote development on brownfield land first in its local plan, Rotherham Council is taking part in a pilot programme to help bring forward derelict and underused land for new homes.

73 councils across England, including Rotherham and Sheffield, will pilot one of the new brownfield registers, which will provide house builders with up-to-date and publicly available information on all brownfield sites available for housing locally.

The registers will help housebuilders identify suitable sites quickly, speeding up the construction of new homes.

They will also allow communities to draw attention to local sites for listing, including in some cases derelict buildings and eyesores that are primed for redevelopment and that could attract investment to the area.

The Government has pledged one million more homes and to get planning permission in place on 90% of suitable brownfield sites for housing.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: "A key part of our ambition to build 1 million homes is to get work started on brownfield sites across the country – many of which are currently nothing more than blight on a community's landscape.

"These councils will be at the forefront of these efforts to list land and encourage builders to deliver new homes for aspiring homeowners.

"But this is just the first step and I would urge councils to continue to offer up brownfield sites to deliver the homes their residents want and need."

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Rotherham Council had hoped to give priority to bringing forward brownfield land for development before any greenfield sites in the core strategy of its local plan. The Government's inspector would not allow it as it did not conform to national planning guidelines.

The Rotherham strategy admits: "While the release of previously developed or brownfield sites is to be encouraged, the number of remaining suitable brownfield sites is limited and the number of houses that can be accommodated on them fall far short of those needed to deliver the required housing.

"Current economic conditions and constraints on many of the remaining previously developed sites means that development is not economically viable, at least in the short term. The early release of greenfield sites is therefore inevitable, even though there may be some brownfield sites remaining."

The councils taking part in the brownfield pilots will inform future government policy and guidance on the operation of the brownfield registers. Registers will eventually become mandatory for all councils under proposals going through Parliament in the Housing and Planning Bill.

Other measures in the Housing and Planning Bill will enable "permission in principle" to be granted for housing-led development sites listed on the new brownfield registers. This will mean developers building new homes on brownfield land will have a greater degree of certainty in relation to location, use and the amount of development.

Sheffield and Rotherham Councils submitted a joint bid to secure "housing zone" status for the Lower Don Valley but a resource grant was not secured from the Government.

Waverley is Rotherham's largest brownfield development where 3,900 houses could be built on the former colliery site at Orgreave. In contrast, former greenbelt land at Bassingthorpe is set to see the next largescale housing development. Here 2,400 dwellings could be built with Bassingthorpe "promoted" from a "broad location for growth" to a "strategic allocation" in the core strategy, meaning that the site can come forward before other sites in the borough.

Images: Barratt Homes

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