Building on disused industrial sites and empty housing plots could dramatically ease pressure on the countryside, a study has found.
Campaigners say using brownfield sites would solve housing crisis
Say 400,000 could be built without delay as they have planning permission
Rural groups are unhappy at ease developers build on countryside
Government says it must build 200,000 homes a year in England
There is space for more than one million homes on derelict land, vacant plots and disused ground, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
And 400,000 of them would be able to be built without delay, because the sites already have planning permission.
There is space for more than one million homes on derelict land, vacant plots and disused ground, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England
Campaigners say that using these ‘brownfield’ sites would solve Britain’s housing crisis and help preserve our countyside.
Rural groups have become increasingly unhappy at the ease with which ‘predatory developers’ are concreting over our most beautiful countryside for housing developments.
Two of the most respected rural institutions – the National Trust and Country Life magazine – have issued warnings in recent weeks that some of Britain’s most picturesque countryside is being desecrated as a result of the Government’ s weakened planning laws.
And yesterday the Daily Mail revealed that one land agent – Gladman Developments – is so confident it jump legal hurdles that it has offered ‘no win, no fee’ deals to farmers to secure planning permission for housing developments on their land.
Country Life magazine said in an editorial last week that rural communities have been ‘stripped of their natural defences’ by the Government’s planning policies, which have opened the floodgates to a wave of greenfield planning applications.
The policies have also been denounced by Sir Simon Jenkins, the chairman of the National Trust, in a Daily Mail article earlier this month.
Separate research conducted by the National Trust last year found that half of councils are planning to build on green belt land over the next five years.
Planning Minister Brandon Lewis (pictured) said he welcomed the report
The Government insists it needs to build 200,000 homes a year in England to meet the demands of a growing population.
But the CPRE argues that if brownfield sites were used for housing, there would be no need to even consider concreting over open fields.
The report, called From Wasted Space to Living Spaces, also makes a series of recommendations that would make brownfield land more attractive to developers.
Paul Miner, CPRE planning campaign manager, said: ‘This research demonstrates the huge existing capacity for housing on brownfield land.
‘At a time when there is great pressure on our green spaces, utilising this land through a brownfield-first policy would protect our countryside and regenerate urban areas.
‘We want this new, authoritative evidence to lead to a sustained focus on suitable brownfield land. We can and must do more to get these sites redeveloped, whether it be reviving the national land use database or implementing strong local plans to deal with multiple landowners on difficult sites.’
The report, based on an investigation of council records conducted by the University of the West of England, found at least 976,000 new homes could be built on identified brownfield sites.
The true figure could be much higher, because the researchers only identified land already derelict or with planning permission – it does not include underused land such as car parks.
There is already planning permission for enough land to accommodate more than 400,000 houses – and space for another 550,000 on derelict land.
Nearly half of this vacant space is located in the south east, the east of England and London – the areas under the greatest stress.
The CPRE called for the Government to change its planning policy to prioritise previously developed sites over rural sites.
It wants the Homes and Communities Agency to be given greater powers and funding to redevelop large and difficult sites.
And it called for far more a proactive approach in actively searching for and identifying brownfield land.
Developers have claimed that brownfield sites are often too difficult and expensive to bring back into use.
The Government has promised to change that by reducing red tape and easing planning regulations.
Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said last night: ‘We welcome this report, which illustrates the scope for building new homes and protecting the countryside at the same time.
‘This Government wants to see the maximum amount of brownfield land being used to build new homes, whilst also maintaining protections for our beautiful countryside.
‘That is why our planning reforms encourage councils to use brownfield land for new buildings, free up disused public sector land for redevelopment and why we’ ve invested £235 million into bringing 80,000 long term empty homes back into use since 2010.
‘We are proud to be building more homes to support hard working families and help first time buyers onto the property ladder.’