Planning and Housing

13.02.18

Space on brownfield land to build up to one million new homes

There is enough space on brownfield land to build at least a million new homes, research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has found.

The analysis of Brownfield Land Registers reveals that over two thirds of these homes could be deliverable within five years, and many of these sites are in areas that have a high need for housing.

CPRE found that the 17,656 sites identified by local planning authorities, covering over 28,000 hectares of land, would provide enough land for at least 1,052,124 new homes, which it says could rise to over 1.1 million once all registers are published.

According to CPRE, this means that three of the next five years’ worth of government housing targets could be met through building on brownfield land that has already been identified.

This would ease pressure on councils being pushed to release greenfield land, and would mean that less of the UK’s countryside would be used for new builds.

London, the north west, and the south west were identified as having the highest number of potential deliverable homes, with the new registers giving minimum housing estimates of 267,859, 160,785 and 132,263 respectively.

The registers found sites for over 400,000 homes that have not yet come forward for planning permission, despite the “urgent need” to move sites towards development.

More than a third of these sites are on publicly owned land, and CPRE argues that as public authority developments should give a significant opportunity to provide affordable homes, it provides an opportunity for homes to be built on brownfield land to help towards local need.

Additionally, further analysis showed that there is brownfield capacity wherever there is threat to the green belt.

It found that in a number of areas with an extremely high number of green belt sites proposed for development, local authorities have identified enough brownfield land to fulfil up to 12 years of housing need.

Rebecca Pullinger, planning campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, called it “fantastic news” that authorities have identified so many brownfield sites that are ready to be developed.

She said: “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 much higher if density is increased and if more registers looked at small sites.”

She called on the government to amend its guidance to ensure that councils have identified all of the brownfield sites in their areas, and to improve incentives to build on these sites and ensure that they follow through on their commitment for all new builds to be on brownfield first.

In order to make use of suitable brownfield land, CPRE has called on the government to use the upcoming review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to introduce a “brownfield first” approach to land release and granting planning permissions for development.

It argues that local authorities must be empowered to refuse planning permission for greenfield sites where there are suitable brownfield alternatives.

Top image: Duncan Andison

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