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25/10/2021

Sunak expected to set out cash to transform brownfield land

Words: Laura Edgar
Housebuilding / iStock

It is expected that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce that £1.8 billion will go towards building homes on derelict or unused land in England in the 2021 Budget and spending review this week.

According to the government, 160,000 greener homes could be built on brownfield land.

As part of the funding, combined authorities and councils would receive £300 million to develop smaller brownfield sites for housing.

In addition, £65 million to develop new software to help with the digitisation of the town planning system is expected.

Victoria Hills, chief executive at the RTPI, said: “As we approach the Comprehensive Spending Review we are glad the government is considering how best to alleviate the housing crisis.

“The £1.8 billion package to regenerate brownfield land announced today is encouraging and we favour a brownfield-first approach. It is unclear whether prioritising brownfield will deliver 160,000 new homes but it is important that the homes are supported by adequate infrastructure and facilities as well as delivering on net zero commitments.

“We have for some time been calling for a digital transformation fund of £46 million to help bring the planning system into the 21st century so the £65 million package announced today is a great start. But funding of the wider planning system is still required. We estimate that £500 million over four years can produce an efficient system that is capable of rising to the challenge of England’s housing shortage.”

Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, commented: "Making proper use of our previously developed brownfield land is one sure fire way to help build back better. This investment is a huge win for communities and countryside campaigners up and down the country who have long been calling for more well-located homes they can afford. The funding has the potential to breathe new life into long forgotten and derelict areas of our towns, cities and villages. Better yet, it will also go a long way in halting the loss of greenfield land, which is crucial in our efforts to tackle the climate and nature emergencies.

"But we know there is a long way to go to match ambition with action. Our research has found that there is space for over a million new homes on brownfield land, with a significant proportion already having planning permission. It really is a no brainer that these sites, many of which are located in the north and midlands, are put at the front of the queue for development to realise the government’s levelling up ambitions.

"That’s why we’re urging the government to turn this funding pledge into well designed, low carbon homes that local people can afford with no delay. It is crucial these commitments are backed up by a firm urban brownfield first policy when the government revises the National Planning Policy Framework in the new year. Otherwise we’ll continue to see poorly designed greenfield developments in the wrong places that siphon off a lot of public money."

Also expected is £9 million for 100 urban pocket parks in the UK. 

The Budget will be announced on Wednesday 27 October.

Image credit | iStock

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