15 Aug The revised NPPF: Does it go far enough for brownfield land regeneration?

With the recent revision to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), our Property Group Director James Mortimer takes a look at the changes relating to the regeneration of brownfield land.


The revised NPPF: Does it go far enough for brownfield land regeneration?As with the previous issue of the NPPF, this most recent version sets out the need to maximise the use of previously developed sites* and affords “substantial weight” to the use of brownfield sites within local policies and planning decisions to meet development needs. It continues to identify that Local Authorities should give support to “remediate despoiled, degraded, derelict, contaminated or unstable land”.

As well as maximising the use of these sites, Paragraph 119 in the policy also notes that Local Authorities should be proactive in identifying and helping to promote brownfield sites. However, Local Authorities face continued difficulties when it comes to encouraging and supporting landowners and developers with regards to the overall deliverability of difficult brownfield sites. The revised NPPF does reinforce the use of powers available to Local Authorities (e.g. Compulsory Purchase Order) should they be required, but due to the costs and potential risks involved it is unlikely we will see any immediate or sustained use of these.

Whilst it does not mention it specifically, Paragraph 123 confirms Local Authorities will need to evidence how they have sought to optimise the use of land in their area. This, perhaps, suggests maximising the use of brownfield sites within their Local Plans, which will be robustly tested and examined by the Planning Inspectorate. However, such optimisation needs to remain realistic in the view of deliverability and meeting their longer-term housing needs.

Finally, we cannot ignore the elephant in the room, Brexit. The implications of our March 2019 exit will need to be considered in terms of the potential for removal of significant EU funding which is currently available to aid brownfield regeneration.

In summary, whilst the revised NPPF continues to put weight behind the brownfield first agenda, the wording is unlikely to force significant changes in the short term.

Read the revised National Planning Policy Framework.

* It is noted that the definition of previously developed land remains practically unchanged and still excludes residential gardens albeit the word “private” has now been removed.