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Social Housing Speed Read – Brownfield registers identify land for over 1 million homes

A study carried out by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has confirmed that there is enough space on brownfield land to build at least 1 million new homes. This could help reach Government housing targets and relieve pressure on Councils to identify land to meet housing need.

What has the study found?

The CPRE analysed Brownfield Land Registers and found that 17,656 sites identified by Local Planning Authorities and spreading over 28,000 hectares provide enough land for a minimum of 1,052,124 new houses. When all Brownfield Land Registers are published this figure could rise to over 1.1 million.

Most brownfield land is within urban areas already benefitting from infrastructure etc. and many of the sites identified are in areas where there is high housing demand.

The areas identified by the registers as having the highest number of potential new homes include:

  • London; a minimum housing estimate of 267,859
  • The North West; a minimum housing estimate of 160,785
  • The South East; a minimum housing estimate of 132,263

Further results from the analysis have shown that there is brownfield capacity wherever there is threat to Greenbelt. In the North West in particular where there are a large number of Greenbelt sites proposed for development, enough Brownfield land has been identified in the study to satisfy up to 12 years of housing demand.

What is the effect of this?

The availability to build over 1 million homes on brownfield land means that more than two thirds of these homes could be delivered within the next five years. This means that three of the next five years’ worth of Government housing targets could be met through homes being built on land already identified. Councils will then be under less pressure to release Greenfield land, preventing further unnecessary loss of rural areas and country side.

The study has identified sites for over 400,000 homes that have not yet been put forward for planning permission. More than one third of these sites are on publicly owned land and with public authority developments giving rise to more affordable homes, development on brownfield sites can satisfy local needs.

What else needs to be done?

Rebecca Pullinger, Planning Campaigner at the CPRE has said “The Government needs to get on with amending its guidance to make sure those councils identified all the available brownfield sites in their areas. They then need to improve incentives to build on these sites and ensure that they follow through on their commitment that all new-builds should be on brownfield first”.

In light of the upcoming review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) the CPRE have called on the Government to introduce a ‘brownfield first approach’ to land release. The CPRE believe that making available more brownfield sites will help provide local authorities with confidence to refuse more planning permissions for Greenfield sites and build on alternative brownfield land.

If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect social housing providers, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact John Murray or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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