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Land on brownfield registers increases by 19%

Words: Laura Edgar
Housing / Shutterstock_84968503

England’s brownfield registers have the capacity to deliver 1.3 million homes, according to a report by countryside charity CPRE.

That figure represents a 19 per cent increase on the capacity listed in 2019.

The charity explains that through brownfield registers, the planning system can demonstrate that there is enough land to meet the government’s ambition to build 300,000 homes a year during this Parliament.

This therefore calls into question government proposals set out in Planning for the Future to “deregulate the planning system”, says the pressure group.

The figure was calculated in CPRE’s The State of Brownfield report, which is the latest of the charity’s reports on brownfield land.

CPRE says its analysis shows that the planning system is not slowing down building rates and, as it stands, 565,564 homes planned for brownfield land have planning permission. Combine this with the one million homes Local Government Association (LGA) research suggests have planning permission but have not yet been built, and there are more than 1.5 million new homes that could be delivered. 

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, said the figures show that the planning system “is not what is ailing our housing market”.

“If there is enough land in the planning system to meet the government’s own housing targets, what will an overhaul of the planning system, with rushed and untested changes, really achieve? It’s clear the government has gravely misdiagnosed the problem – slow build-out rates and market-led housing are blocking the quality affordable housing that rural communities are crying out for.

“But there is a real prize in brownfield – what says ‘build back better’ more than adopting a truly ‘brownfield first’ approach that will breathe new life into the long-forgotten and derelict areas in our towns, cities and villages? This approach will deliver huge benefits building the affordable homes in areas where communities want to live, providing access to better transport links and amenities and services they need.”

According to the report, cities with a shortage of housing, such as London, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, and Leeds have identified brownfield land that could accommodate 458,587 homes.

The CPRE wants the government to introduce a “genuine brownfield first” policy so that previously developed land is prioritised over green spaces and the countryside. In order for the registers to work, clearer definitions and guidance are needed, including to list other suitable uses for the land, including uses that protect biodiversity.

Truman added: “As things stand, the government’s proposed changes will result in a free-for-all, allowing big housebuilders to build what they like, where they like, and when they like. Now more than ever is it vital that the government listens to local communities, promotes a genuinely ‘brownfield first’ policy and brings forward more brownfield sites for development so we can build more affordable, well-designed homes.”

Read more:

Research: More than a million approved homes not built

Planning reforms ‘will upgrade tech’ and ‘consult communities from the start’, vows Jenrick

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