THERE’S enough brownfield land out there to build one million new homes, with two thirds of such sites being ‘shovel ready’, according to an analysis by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
If the land that councils have shown is ready and waiting to be developed was prioritised, the CPRE says it would not only help to transform run-down areas, and provide more homes, but also prevent the “unnecessary loss of precious countryside and green spaces” for housing.
Furthermore, as well as providing an opportunity to deliver much-needed homes, the charity highlights the potential for brownfield land to continue providing a steady pipeline of housing, as more than 120,000 of the potential new homes have been added to the registers in the past year alone.
However, despite the “demonstrable success” of Brownfield Land Registers, CPRE said it fears that the definition of ‘previously developed land’ given in the registers’ regulations means that a large number of sites are currently being missed, and the full potential of the registers to bring forward as much suitable brownfield land for housing as possible is not being met.
It also highlights that housing density assumptions for the land identified is low. By increasing the density of housing built on brownfield land, councils will be able to make best use of the space available and deliver more homes.
“Building on brownfield land presents a fantastic opportunity to simultaneously remove local eyesores and breathe new life into areas crying out for regeneration,” said Rebecca Pullinger, the CPRE’s planning campaigner. “It will help to limit the amount of countryside lost to development, and build more homes in areas where people want to live, with infrastructure, amenities and services already in place.
“Councils have worked hard to identify space suitable for more than one million new homes. But until we have a brownfield first approach to development, and all types of previously developed land are considered, a large number of sites that could be transformed into desperately needed new homes will continue to be overlooked. The Government, local councils and house builders must work hard to bring these sites forward for development and get building.”
Many areas across England with high housing need also have a large amount of brownfield land ready for redevelopment, CPRE says. London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield have identified land available for regeneration that would provide almost half a million homes.
In order to make best use of suitable brownfield land, CPRE is urging the Government to introduce a genuine ‘brownfield first’ policy, which ensures that suitable previously developed or under-used land is prioritised for redevelopment over green spaces and countryside. Clearer definitions and guidelines must be given so that the registers act as a true pipeline, identifying all possible brownfield sites and recording their suitability for uses other than housing, including uses that protect the biodiversity or heritage value of sites where applicable.
The Local Government Association’s housing spokesperson, Councillor Martin Tett called the report “timely”.
“Councils are committed to bringing forward appropriate sites and ensuring homes are built where they are needed, are affordable, of high-quality and supported by adequate infrastructure and services,” he said.
“This timely report highlights the availability of sites across the country to deliver enough homes and infrastructure to begin to address the national housing shortage we face.
“Councils have already given hundreds of thousands of homes in England planning permission that are yet to be built. To ensure developers are building well-designed homes to a good quality and as quickly as possible, the Government needs to use the Spending Review to give councils the power to speed up developments and set planning fees locally so they can cover the cost of processing applications and ensure planning departments are adequately resourced.”