Planning framework leaves it to councils to decide whether to prioritise previously-used land

Councils will be free to draw up their own brownfield land target under the final version of the National Planning Policy Framework, published today.

However, the document does not insist that councils draw up policies on previously developed land, leaving them free to prioritise greenfield or edge of town sites if preferred.

The draft of the NPPF published last summer made no reference to brownfield land, leading to criticisms that the decade long “brownfield first” presumption in the planning system was being removed.

Today’s document said: “Planning policies and decisions should encourage the effective use of land by re-using land that has been previously developed (brownfield land), provided that it is not of high environmental value.

“Local planning authorities may continue to consider the case for setting a locally appropriate target for the use of brownfield land.”

Roger Hepher, head of planning at consultant Savills, said the balance was sensible.

He said: “Although a brownfield-first approach superficially seems attractive, it doesn’t make a lot of sense in sustainability terms to develop an old factory site isolated in the middle of the countryside (and which may have acquired significant biodiversity value) rather than an area of indifferent scrub land close to urban facilities and public transport.”