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Planning and Sustainable Development: Green Belt, Brownfield and Greenfield Sites

Land and planning specialist Paul Higgs continues his series of articles on planning and development

Green Belt, Brownfield and Greenfield are much-quoted but often misunderstood terms used to describe land. It's important to understand what these really mean so we know where are the best places to look for new opportunities to provide much-needed housing and commercial space, whilst minimising any adverse effects on the environment. That is, to develop in a 'sustainable' way. This article also provides a quick planning overview and highlights the importance of the 'Development Plan'.

A planning history
Let's start at what's pretty-much the beginning of the modern era in terms of how the property development process is now controlled - The Town and Country Planning Act 1947. This was an Act of Parliament passed by the post-war Labour government and largely designed to help get the country rebuilt in a planned and positive way. It came into effect on 1 July 1948, and was the foundation of modern town and country planning in the UK.

At the time parliament also saw it as essential to restrict the unchecked growth of large cities so the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 also laid down procedures to control 'urban sprawl' into the countryside. The thinking behind this was made in tandem with the slightly earlier New Towns Act 1946, which sought to depopulate urban centres in the South East of England by housing people in new settlements elsewhere.

The Development Plan
The 1947 Act established that planning permission would now be required for the development of land (planning permission as we know it wasn't required prior to 1948) and reorganised the planning system from the 1,400 planning authorities that existed at the time into just 145 that were formed from county and borough councils.

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