Who wants to be a "housing zone"?
We are not even two weeks into 2015 but it is already clear that politics will have a huge role to play in the first half of this year (significantly more so than usual!). Political parties will continue to hammer potential voters with their stances on various matters and planning as always will be discussed and observed with a degree of scrutiny. Where political parties lie on the greenfield/green belt verses brownfield land is always a key issue up for debate and the Conservative Party chose yesterday to lay (at least some of) their cards on the table.
On the 8th January 2015, George Osbourne and Brandon Lewis announced the shortlist of 29 areas outside of London which will now bid to gain cheaper borrowing from the Public Loan Board and priority access to specialist planning support. The ten successful nominations will comprise the first flagship housing zones in England. Chancellor George Osbourne declared his delight to announce the shortlisted areas which he added would be “part of a wider package of measures [to] help deliver up to 200,000 new homes on brownfield land.” Housing Minister Brandon Lewis stated that “getting Britain building is a vital part of [the Conservatives’] long term economic plan”. The concept alludes towards enabling more efficient planning so gaining permission is both quicker and easier, particularly with regards to brownfield sites. It is the government’s intention that the list will lead to ten locations which will have special circumstances to allow more builds for the local community whilst also aiding in the protection of the green belt.
But why allocate 10 zones as ‘housing zones’ when the government’s continually state their overall stance is to be a brownfield-first approach? Does this fuel further confusion with regards to the bureaucracy of planning and where we build houses? If this prioritises brownfield development in some areas, will this aggravate the likelihood of brownfield land opportunities in other areas not being brought forward as potential housing sites because there is not the funding or resources available as there would be in the housing zones?
The 29 areas shortlisted to become housing zones are:
- Suffolk Rural Growth Housing Zone (Babergh and Mid-Suffolk Councils)
- Hoyland and Dearne Valley Housing Zone, Barnsley (Barnsley Metropolitan District Council)
- Harworth, North Nottinghamshire (Bassetlaw District Council)
- Foxhill (Bath and North East Somerset Council)
- Pennine-Lancashire (Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council)
- South Bristol HZ (Bristol City Council)
- Derby City Housing Zone (Derby City Council)
- Coseley Housing Zone (Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council)
- Whitehill and Bordon (East Hampshire District Council)
- Exemplar Neighbourhood (Gateshead Council)
- Gedling Colliery (Gedling Borough Council)
- Gloucester City Growth Zone (Gloucester City Council)
- Slyfield Area Regeneration Project (Guildford Borough Council)
- Elstree Way Corridor (Hertsmere Borough Council)
- North East Lincolnshire Town Centre Living (North East Lincolnshire Council)
- Weston Links/Avoncrest (North Somerset Council)
- Weston Super Mare Town Centre (North Somerset Council)
- Former Powerstation Site, Poole (Borough of Poole Council)
- Preston Housing Zone (Preston City Council)
- Bescot Friar Park (Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council)
- Hinkley Housing Zone (Sedgemoor District Council)
- Sheffield – Rotherham Don Valley Housing Zone (Sheffield City Council)
- Stoke City Centre Renaissance (Stoke City Council)
- Ashchurch (Tewkesbury Borough Council)
- Thurrock Thames-Side Towns (Thurrock Council)
- Aire River Growth Corridor (Wakefield Metropolitan District Council)
- Greater Gainsborough Housing Zone (West Lindsey District Council)
- Wirral Waters – North Bank East (Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council)
- York Central Housing Zone (City of York Council)
NJL Consulting has worked on and continues to work on various projects on both brownfield and green field land. We work with clients and authorities to provide solutions to enable development including residential, commercial, retail, leisure and tourism and other sectors (please view our case studies for more information on the array of projects we are involved in). Our work spans across England and Wales with emerging work in Northern Ireland, including the majority of administrative areas included within yesterday’s shortlist. If you think NJL Consulting could work with you then please get in touch.
Images used courtesy of Number 10 and Charlie Marshall on Flickr.