New research from the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) suggests that brownfield land could allow more than a million new homes to be built without impacting the green belt.
The report analysed registers of Brownfield Land maintained by Councils found that almost two thirds of the sites available were ‘shovel ready’, meaning that they are deliverable within five years. The Registers currently list more than 18,000 sites.
Given that a substantial number of new sites become available each year, brownfield land represents a steady stream of viable development land. This could help the Government to more easily meet national new build targets.
At a time when new legislation to further protect the Green Belt is being moved through Parliament, the need to focus on brownfield sites has never been greater. In response, the CPPR’s report urges the government to introduce a ‘brownfield first’ policy to ensure that previously developed or under-used land is prioritised over green belt space.
They also a suggest there is a need for clearer definitions and guidelines to ensure that the Registers reflect the true volume of sites available. Concerns were raised that an excessively tight definition of ‘previously developed land’ could result in sites being excluded from the Registers.
Also highlighted was the CPRE’s view that housing density assumptions for brownfield land identified are too low. They propose that the permitted density of housing built on brownfield sites should be increased to make more efficient use of the available space.
The report found that many areas with high housing needs also had large volumes of brownfield land available. In the case of London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield combined, almost half a million new homes could be built on brownfield sites.
Shaun Peart, Managing Director LSL Land & New Homes commented that:
“At a time when the Government is applying pressure to housebuilders to provide new homes, to the extent of releasing greenbelt or AONB for redevelopment, the opportunity to redevelop Brownfield sites can only have a positive outcome. There are any number of abandoned or derelict buildings that were once thriving, that have now become an eyesore. They remain the target for vandalism.
By building on these sites not only do we remove the eyesore but breathe new life into the local area and economy. In doing so, protecting our countryside.
Aside from the countryside remaining intact, the heritage of not only the buildings but also the local area can also be retained. We only have to look at the Wharfs and Dockside developments to see the positive outcome it has had on the local community and surrounding areas.”
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