The latest report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) shows that there is enough suitable brownfield land in England to build more than 1 million new homes.

The report, released last month, is based on analysis of local council’s brownfield registers. It shows that there are more than 18,000 sites – an increase if 2,600 since February 2018 - and more than 26,000 hectares of brownfield land that could be built on.

The report also suggests that the majority of the brownfield land they have identified is ready to build on now.

And the benefits of building on brownfield sites is clear. Not only are brownfield sites generally in prime locations - which means they have great transport links already in place – but by building on them, towns are able to regenerate tired and boarded-up sites bringing much-needed housing and fresh life to urban areas. The other huge benefit, of course, is that by building on brownfield, you can protect greenbelt land from unnecessary development.

But according to the report, of the sites identified, just half have been granted planning permission.

So, what’s the problem?

Councils, planners and developers are all hugely supportive of building on brownfield, because it brings life back to abandoned industrial sites which will clearly go a long way towards helping deliver much-needed homes in many sought-after locations.

But sadly, it is still often quicker, easier and cheaper to develop on Greenfield sites, mainly because of the land’s previous industrial uses.

This is because preparing former industrial land for reuse as residential developments can be very costly. Unlike land that has never been built on, brownfield sites need to be demolished, and then any environmental liabilities need to be removed.

For example, it is quite common for brownfield sites to be former industrial land which may have been contaminated and this needs to be made safe, which is time-consuming and expensive.

The land then needs to be refilled and services and utilities need to be available so that it can be used for residential development. These costs can really mount up, and that is before any actual development has taken place.

So what is the answer?

The CPRE says that if the Government is serious about using the sites, they need to introduce a genuine brownfield first policy so that suitable brownfield land is prioritised and incentivised for redevelopment over greenfield land.

According to the CPRE, there is brownfield capacity wherever there is a threat to the Green Belt, so LPAs need to be empowered to refuse planning permission for greenfield sites where there are suitable alternatives on brownfield land and be supported in purchasing and controlling brownfield land for development.

The CPRE also says that local government should also be using its brownfield registers to promote suitable sites and try and attract developers to build there and make it easier to getting permission to do so.

At Spicerhaart Part-Exchange and Assisted Move, we hugely support any effort to reuse derelict land. We have a housing shortage, and the solution is there – the potential for 1million new homes on land that is ready to be developed.

We know demand is there and we work some of the UK’s biggest developers - including Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, Redrow, McCarthy & Stone and Barratt Homes – as well as smaller independent builders, providing a comprehensive range of part exchange and assisted move services.  Our services help builders and developers across the whole of the UK sell new build properties more quickly and easily.

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