Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

"Smart growth" alliance outlines recommendations for use of LDOs

Out-Law News | 05 Nov 2014 | 4:31 pm | 1 min. read

An alliance of civic, environmental and transport bodies has released a series of principles recommended for use by local authorities when choosing sites at which to use local development orders (LDOs) to speed up housing development.

In his annual Mansion House speech in June, chancellor George Osborne announced proposals to require local authorities to earmark brownfield sites for housing development and to ease planning restrictions at these sites using LDOs. The announcement was followed by invitations to local authorities to bid for £5 million in grant funding to help deliver sites with LDOs attached; and £400m in loans for the preparation of 30 'housing zones' across England at which LDOs could be used to deliver large-scale housing development.

In a statement released last month, Smart Growth UK (SGUK), a coalition including the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Campaign for Better Transport and Civic Voice, said that it "welcome[d] the Government's announcement that it will seek ways of building more homes on brownfield land". The coalition recommended that local authorities choosing zones in which to use LDOs should look for areas that "consist overwhelmingly of previously developed land", only including "small areas of greenfield land ... in exceptional circumstances".  

Development zones should "only be designated within the built-up footprint of existing major urban areas" and should be in locations with good public transport connections in place or firmly planned, the statement said. SGUK said that environmentally protected areas, green belt land and areas at high risk of flooding should not be designated for the use of LDOs.

The statement also recommended a series of design principles that it said should be followed in any housing development brought forward using LDOs. A mix of dwellings, including homes for "families, couples, single people and older people" should be provided, at an appropriate density "avoiding both the very low densities of typical greenfield development and acute town cramming", SGUK said.

Developments should be mixed-use, avoiding "rigid zoning" and providing access to "shops, education, healthcare, services and open space", the coalition recommended. High standards of design and sustainability should be used in construction and developments should be laid out to allow "free and convenient movement on foot or by bike" and "easy access to shops, schools, healthcare, other services and public transport", the statement said.

SGUK also recommended requirements for the conservation of heritage assets, "appropriate green infrastructure" and the inclusion of "substantial quantities of flexible housing for older people".