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MHCLG publishes land use stats

Words: Laura Edgar

The biggest land use category in England is agriculture at 63 per cent while 8 per cent of England’s land is developed, according to statistics published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Transport and utilities is the biggest developed category land use at 4 per cent, while 1 per cent of the total land area in England is in residential use. Residential gardens account for 5 per cent of land use.

In total, 8 per cent of England’s land is developed, leaving 92 per cent undeveloped.

Of the green belt, 8 per cent is developed and 92 per cent is not developed. Breaking that down, 0.3 per cent is under residential use and residential gardens accounts for 3.1 per cent.

In National Flood Zone 3, 6 per cent is developed and 94 per cent undeveloped.

Land Use in England, 2017 is the first of an experimental statistical release on land use in England. The statistics were published alongside a wider consultation on the future of land use change statistics. MHCLG said they could potentially become part of the regular future statistical publication.

Land use change 2017/18

The MHCLG has also published land use change statistics for 2017/18. Of the new homes built in 2017/18, some 53 per cent of new residential addresses were delivered on previously developed land. This is a decline of three percentage points compared with 2016/17.

The main previous land use categories where new residential homes were created:

  • Agricultural land: 17 per cent of addresses created.
  • Vacant – not previously developed land: 15 per cent.
  • Other developed land uses: 13 per cent.

The statistics also show that 2 per cent of new residential addresses were created within the green belt, which is 4 per cent down on 2016/17.

Countryside charity Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said that these new government figures are a clear indication that more must be done to realise the full potential of brownfield land, which can help to transform vacant spaces while providing much-needed homes.

Alex Ground, planning lawyer and partner in the real estate team at law firm Russell-Cooke, said: “The slight drop in new residential development on brownfield sites suggests the government’s attempts to encourage housing delivery on brownfield sites, including to protect the green belt, could be failing. Our clients are finding the development of the remaining brownfield sites certainly possible, but increasingly expensive; for example, with the additional costs related to remediation or land stability issues.

“Accordingly, unless in such situations – upon production of appropriate evidence – councils are more flexible in reducing s106 burdens, namely affordable housing requirements, delivery on brownfield sites is likely to continue to decrease, which seems to be a terrible waste of an opportunity.”

Read more:

Land Use Change Statistics in England: 2017-18 (pdf)

Land Use in England, 2017 (pdf)

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