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Brownfield Development

Volume 602: debated on Monday 9 November 2015

11. What support his Department provides to local authorities to encourage development of brownfield land; and if he will he make a statement. (902058)

If we are to deliver this Government’s economic plan to achieve and unlock the growth potential that exists in this country, brownfield land must have a part to play in delivering the houses and commercial properties that we need to see built. That is why this Government are establishing a £1 billion brownfield fund and why we are establishing the brownfield register. We want to deliver development in the right places and in the right way, and that is what we are doing.

I welcome the Government’s plans to utilise brownfield sites and to require local planning authorities to compile a register of land. Can the Minister assure me and my constituents that the infrastructure needed will be included in the plans and will be introduced in tandem with such developments?

My hon. Friend makes an important point. We want to ensure that planning on brownfield sites is as straightforward as it can practically be, but it must go hand in hand with the existing needs in some locations for infrastructure to support those developments. That is exactly what we will do: those requirements will continue to exist, local authorities will still have such powers and controls, and the Government will of course work with them to ensure that we are developing for the long term and sustainably, which of course includes infrastructure as well.

The brownfield register of course builds on the welcome work of the Mayor of London’s London land commission, as well as the proposed changes to business rate relief suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr Prisk). Will the Minister also look at particular changes to the planning regime for brownfield land? For example, the accelerated introduction of in-principle permission would enable developers to go to the market, borrow up front against that permission and therefore accelerate bringing sites forward.

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. This is one of the issues that my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning will cover in the Housing and Planning Bill. We want to ensure that where brownfield sites are identified as suitable for development, the planning system works with local authorities and people who want to invest to unlock the sites and ensure that they are developed in the right way, speedily and at the right time. London is currently under great leadership. We can learn a lot from some of the things that have been done by the Mayor of London. We want to take the best things that he has done and apply them elsewhere.