Government tells councils to consider permission in principle for estate regeneration

Councils should consider using planning permissions in principle to streamline estate regeneration schemes, according to a government strategy published today.

Estates: regeneration plan published
Estates: regeneration plan published

The Estate Regeneration National Strategy, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), says planning permission in principle, the new mechanism for securing consent introduced in the 2016 Housing and Planning Act, "presents an opportunity to substantially de-risk regeneration schemes". The new mechanism allows permission in principle to be conferred on sites allocated for housing in qualifying documents, including brownfield registers, development plan documents and neighbourhood plans.

It says the tool can provide upfront certainty for developers and create a "far more certain and streamlined planning process" for those involved in regeneration.

Estate regeneration "can help to boost net housing supply, diversify the housing mix and provide more homes for private sale," the strategy says.

"Opportunities for estate regeneration should be considered as part of the evidence base when local plans are put together."

Noting that national planning policy encourages councils "to maximise the effective use of land through higher densities, where possible, to help meet their local housing targets," the document says estate regeneration can provide "an opportunity both to improve housing for existing residents and to provide much needed new homes, particularly in urban areas, where estates have been built at relatively low denisties." 

The use of the core strategy process, local development orders and neighbourhood plans should all be considered as ways of shaping estate regeneration proposals, it says.

Such regeneration schemes have "the potential to deliver thousands of net additional homes over the next 10 to 15 years," it says.

The national strategy was developed by an independent advisory panel, chaired by former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine and planning minister Gavin Barwell.

As part of the announcement, the government has also pledged an extra £32 million of funding to be made available to be added to the £140 million from the estate regeneration fund which was announced earlier this year.

The government said that £30 million of this extra cash will be focused on work such as feasibility studies, viability assessments, masterplanning, community engagement and procurement advice, with £2 million earmarked for local authority capacity building to support estate regeneration work.

Rachel Fisher, head of policy at the National Housing Federation, welcomed the announcement, saying it showed a "renewed focus on regenerating some of the country's most deprived estates".

She said the £140 million loan funding was "limited in what it can achieve" but that the extra £32 million grant funding could "help improve the impact of the overall programme."

"It is vital that this is done through a place-based, partnership approach and joined-up thinking about investment in infrastructure, public services and employment and skills," Fisher said. 

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