Thousands of new homes aim to be built on unused and previously developed land, under the government’s plans to make it easier to build on brownfield sites suitable for housing. Housing zones are a new approach being used by the government, to get new homes built quickly.
Councils and local authorities aim to play a important role in identifying and packing together brownfield land, which may be used to develop a new housing zone; removing all unnecessary planning restrictions across it and partnering with a developer to build new homes. The absence of planning constraints in these zones may significantly accelerate construction.
In addition, ministers have stated they understand the need to make the best possible use of brownfield land in a way which keeps strong safeguards in place which protect the valued countryside. Speaking at Mansion House, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said, “We have beautiful landscapes, and they too are part of the inheritance of the next generation. To preserve them, we must make other compromises. If we want to limit development on important green spaces, we have to remove all the obstacles [which] remain to development on brown field sites.”
This plan might provide up to 200,000 permissions for new homes by 2020. In addition, 20 new housing zones on this brownfield land in London may benefit from £400 million funding from the government. There may also be £200 million of additional government funding available for 10 zones outside London. To ensure developments in the London housing zones progresses as quickly as possible, the government may grant the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, substantial powers, in the form of Mayoral Development Orders, to remove planning obstacles.
The Mayor of London said, “Housing is the biggest challenge facing London’s economic development and these new £400 million housing zones aim to turbo boost housing supply across the capital. This major regeneration will transform communities and provide up to 50,000 much-needed homes. They will support 250,000 Londoners into reduced cost home ownership over the next decade.”
Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, discussing the plan said, “We’re determined to make the best use of derelict land and former industrial sites to provide the homes this country needs in a way which protects our valued countryside. By ensuring commitments to housing development are in place early and having dedicated housing zones, building becomes, quicker and easier for homebuilders, businesses and councils.”
Many experts suggest brownfield redevelopments are a catalyst for community regeneration, particularly when communities are brought into the consultation process of site identification and restoration. Managed effectively as a sustainable redevelopment scheme, brownfield sites provide affordable housing, create opportunities for employment, promote conservation and wildlife, and offer a shared place for play and enjoyment. In addition, ensuring developments have good connectivity to public transportation and accessibility to facilities may be a vital part of sustainability.
It may be important the UK builds places which people actually want to live in. In a recent speech, Labour leader Ed Miliband, called for local councils to be offered greater freedom to build more homes to meet demand and called for greater local powers to combat land-banking. He also discussed the possibility of greater freedom for local government; explaining councils may go even further in addressing local housing needs.
Furthermore, Emma Reynolds, the Shadow Housing Minister, recently said she wanted to make councils sell off small areas of unused or derelict land to people who want to build their own homes. She suggested, the new land waiting lists might offer thousands of young people – who are priced out of the property market – the chance of owning their own homes and may help the Labour Party meet its pledge to double the number of houses built across the country every year.
What people and areas in the British economy might this government plan to support and benefit?