HGH Consulting


Brownfield Development: Missing the Mark

Hannah David, hgh Consultant and founder of think tank Planning Futures, argues that a recent Government consultation on brownfield development is missing the mark.

Earlier this month, Planning Futures convened a workshop to discuss the Government’s latest planning policy consultation: strengthening planning policy for brownfield development.  Drawing on Planning Futures’ cross-sector, multidisciplinary membership, the event was attended by senior representatives from local authorities, developers, planning law firms and planning consultancies.  The discussion was chaired by former Chief Planner, Steve Quartermain CBE and attended by hgh Executive Director, Nick Belsten.

Confusion Reigns

In contrast to the response to last year’s consultation on reforms to national planning policy, the workshop did not produce any particularly strong reactions to the government’s latest raft of proposals. Rather than open up opportunities for brownfield development, it was thought that the consultation could stir up confusion around the principles of what makes ‘good development’ in the first place.

There was some concern that the proposals could have unintended consequences in terms of the quality of new places, where new flexibilities would allow a departure from existing planning policies, and there were some questions about how such an approach would be commensurate with the Government’s new design coding regime.

Ultimately, whilst some participants welcomed the fresh emphasis on making best use of brownfield land, nobody felt that these measures would be particularly impactful – negatively or positively. What is clear is that if this Government, or indeed a future Government, wishes to make significant progress towards meeting its 300,000 homes per annum target, it will need to go beyond this tinkering at the edges of the planning system.


Header image: Markus Spiske on Unsplash


Hannah David, Consultant, hgh Consulting
[email protected]

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