An article in today’s Daily Telegraph by Peter Dominiczak reports the results of research conducted by UWE for the CPRE on the amount of brownfield land available for development across the country.
The subject of planning will be a political hot potato in the coming months, as many continue to express their wrath at the relaxing of planning laws which has made their communities so vulnerable to inappropriate development.
The article is reproduced below:
There is space for more than one million homes on brownfield land across England, a new report concludes amid calls for greater protections for the countryside.
In the first comprehensive study of the availability of previously developed sites, researchers argued that Britain’s housing crisis could be solved without developers insisting on building homes in the countryside.
Campaigners have long complained that the Government is allowing developers to build on valuable land rather than first using less valuable brownfield land.
The research, conducted by the University of the West of England for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, found that a minimum of 976,000 new homes could be built on identified brownfield sites.
However, they said that figure is an underestimate because it does not include underused land that could be used for housing, such as car parks. The CPRE said the real figure is likely to be far higher.
Nearly half of the vacant space identified in the report is located in the South East, the east of England and London, which itself could accommodate 146,000 homes.
Changes to planning rules, brought in last year, introduced a ‘presumption of sustainable development’ to force through more house building.
Under the rules, councils have to identify a five-year supply of land to meet demand for new properties in their area.
Councils that fail to adopt local plans setting out where building can take place are at risk from developers.
Opponents say this is because of the ‘onerous criteria’ in constructing viable plans. It means that planning officials are forcing through applications for thousands of homes on greenfield land.
Shaun Spiers, from the CPRE, said: ‘This report shows that there is massive and growing capacity for new homes on brownfield land, including in London and the South East. Yet rather than using this land, all too often we are building in our precious countryside. This is tragic and unnecessary.
‘Fortunately, the Government is now waking up to the potential for more brownfield development, and this is very welcome. But it needs to do much more. It should commit to a proper brownfield-first policy, support local authorities and others trying to develop large and difficult sites, and give more help for small builders to develop smaller local sites.
‘Developers who find it easier and more profitable to build on greenfield sites may not be happy, but everyone else will be.’
Brandon Lewis, the housing and planning minister, said: ‘We welcome this report, which illustrates the scope for building new homes and protecting the countryside at the same time.
‘This Government wants to see the maximum amount of brownfield land being used to build new homes, whilst also maintaining protections for our beautiful countryside. That is why our planning reforms encourage councils to use brownfield land for new buildings, free up disused public sector land for redevelopment, and why we’ve invested £235 million into bringing 80,000 long-term empty homes back into use since 2010.