Throughout the course of the debate over the National Planning Policy Framework, both the Government and property developers have claimed that brownfield land cannot meet our needs as a country. Again and again this has formed the backbone of their argument, however research published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England has shown this is simply not true.
Far from running out, the supply of brownfield land is dynamic and increasing. For every five suitable housing plots becoming available in England between 2001 and 2009, only three homes were built. Even in the South East where housing demand is highest, land supply outpaced demand with one quarter (26 per cent) of suitable brownfield plots going unused.
Neil Sinden, Director of Policy and Campaigns for CPRE said:
“The idea that we’re running out of brownfield land is a myth. Developing new housing on appropriate brownfield land first is the most environmentally, socially and economically sustainable option.”
He went on to state that:
“Our research shows that there is plenty of brownfield land available and national planning policy should promote its use as part of a sustainable approach to development. We should continue to regenerate our urban areas, particularly by encouraging the provision of much needed affordable housing.”
With the Government currently considering more than 10,000 responses to its consultation over the National Planning Policy Framework, there are strong expectations that Ministers will come back with a much revised document which truly emphasises sustainable development. A significant improvement would include the re-inclusion of the brownfield first policy.
Key findings from the report:
- In England there is sufficient brownfield land available and suitable for residential development for 1,494,070 new dwellings. This is equivalent to around 6 years’ supply at the building rates the government claims we need and 10 year supply at 2009 building rates. (2009 figures)
- There is land available for 452,110 new dwellings in the southern regions (London, South East, and the South West).
- The proposed changes to national planning policy could lead, under scenarios projected by the Government, to the amount of greenfield land being used for housing more than doubling (a 158 per cent increase).
- The highest levels of brownfield re-use for new housing in recent years was in 2007, when overall housing output was also at its highest.
- More previously developed land was available and suitable for housing in 2009 than in 2001.