Derelict land could provide enough space for one million new homes - but a large number of sites are being overlooked

Published by Stephen Little on 25 March 2019.
Last updated on 25 March 2019

Brownfield land, which has previously been built on but is now derelict, could help solve the housing crisis and regenerate towns and cities. 

There is enough derelict land in the UK to build more than one million new homes, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

It says that two-thirds of sites are "shovel ready" and could meet housing need within five years.

However, the charity warns that the definition of previously-developed land given in the registers’ regulations means that a large number of sites are being overlooked.

The CPRE says that prioritising this land would not only help to transform run-down areas but provide more homes too.

It will also prevent the unnecessary loss of countryside and green spaces for housing.

It also highlights that as housing density assumptions are so low, councils will be able to deliver more homes by increasing the number of properties built on brownfield land.

With more than 120,000 of the potential new homes added to the registers in the past year, the CPRE says brownfield land will continue to provide a steady pipeline of housing.

Rebecca Pullinger, planning campaigner at the CPRE, says: “Building on brownfield land presents a fantastic opportunity to simultaneously remove local eyesores and breathe new life into areas crying out for regeneration.

"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.”

London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield have identified land available for regeneration that would provide almost half a million homes.

The CPRE is urging the government to introduce a genuine “brownfield first” policy, to ensure that suitable previously developed or under-used land is prioritised for redevelopment over green spaces and countryside.

It also wants clearer definitions and guidelines for registers so they can better pipeline sites, identifying all possible brownfield areas and record their suitability for uses other than housing, including the protection of wildlife or heritage value where applicable.

Local Government Association housing spokesman councillor Martin Tett says: “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.

“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.”

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