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We can use brownfield sites for a million homes… and save our countryside


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Brownfield land... are we missing a trick?

It might seem obvious to many of us, but if we focus attention on building on brownfield (previously developed) land rather than greenfield sites, we will be both making better use of derelict urban and post-industrial land and safeguarding our countryside from development.
However, not everyone would appear to agree and CPRE’s contention that we could spare many of our green fields by targeting development at brownfield sites has too often been dismissed by the government.
Now, though, our argument is supported by a survey showing the country has enough brownfield land to take at least one million homes.
This figure – presented in our 
report State of Brownfield 2018 – is more than five times that claimed by the government and drawn from CPRE analysis of data from local authorities and their Brownfield Land Registers.
More than two-thirds of those potential ‘brownfield homes’ could be built within the next five years – and many of those in areas with apparent high housing need.
Or, in other words, three of the next five years’ government housing targets could be met through building homes on brownfield land that has already been identified by councils.
All local planning authorities had been required to publish Brownfield Land Registers by December 31 last year, but more than one in five failed to meet the deadline. As of January 31, 18 were still to publish.
The CPRE analysis found that the 17,656 sites identified by local planning authorities, covering more than 28,000 hectares, would provide land for at least 1,052,124 homes – a figure that could rise to more than 1.1 million once all the registers are published… confirming CPRE’s previous estimates.
It also discovered that many brownfield sites that had been granted planning permission for housing had yet to be developed.
Regions identified as having the highest number of potential ‘deliverable’ homes include London, the North West and the South East, with the new registers giving minimum housing estimates of 267,859, 160,785 and 132,263 respectively.
Rebecca Pullinger, CPRE planning campaigner, said: “It’s fantastic news that local authorities have identified so many sites on brownfield land that are ready and waiting to be developed – and shown how wide of the mark the government’s estimates of brownfield capacity have been.
“Contrary to what the government and other commentators have said, brownfield sites are also available in areas with high housing pressure. Indeed, our analysis is conservative with its estimates of potential number of homes that could be built – the figure could be much higher if density is increased and if more registers looked at small sites.
“The government needs to get on with amending its guidance to make sure that councils identify all the available brownfield sites in their areas. They then need to improve incentives to build on these sites and ensure they follow through on their commitment that all new-builds should be on brownfield first.”
The registers have found sites for well over 400,000 homes that have not yet come forward for planning permission.
To make best use of suitable brownfield land, CPRE is calling on the government to take the opportunity presented by the forthcoming review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to introduce a brownfield-first approach to land release and granting planning permission for development.
ocal authorities must be empowered to refuse planning permission for greenfield sites where there are suitable brownfield alternatives, CPRE believes.
CPRE Essex intends to develop this story with the specific focus on our county. Do you know of any brownfield sites with planning permission for housing that have yet to be developed? Please let us know at david.mairs@cprekent.org.uk     

To read State of Brownfield 2018, click here.