Headlines: February 27th, 2007



Local authorities are accused today of failing to identify urban sites that would benefit from redevelopment and it is claimed that the lack of action to encourage such developments is blighting communities. The claim comes from the Campaign to Protect Rural England which is calling for even more new homes to be built on brownfield sites.

The CPRE says its study, “Untapped Potential: identifying and delivering residential development on previously developed land,” which it is publishing at the Cityscape Conference at Earls Court in London, shows the scale of wasted and neglected land in towns. In 2005 about 77 per cent of new homes were built on brownfield sites, well in excess of the Government’s target of 60 per cent. But now CPRE is calling for the target to be raised to 85 per cent.

The study, carried out by consultants Llewelyn Davies Yeang, looked at current practice in identifying, and realising development on previously used land and found that local authorities vary widely in their approach. Many, the report says, significantly underestimate the potential of brownfield land for new homes with the possible contribution from small sites in particular being seriously underestimated.

It says better monitoring and site surveys, rather than desk top surveys, are essential for getting an accurate view of the number of homes that could be built on brownfield land and it calls for a commitment from decision makers, planners, developers and communities to making the most of such land. CPRE planning campaigner Kate Gordon said London alone had enough small sites close to town centres to accommodate around 60,000 new homes or the equivalent of six Barking Riverside developments.

The study says both rural and town communities benefit from effective use of urban brownfield land. George Ferguson, broadcaster and former chairman of RIBA, supporting the findings, said, “The best protection of both our countryside and the urban environment is to beautify and intensify our towns and cities. Creativity and ingenuity can produce surprising and original windfall development. The untapped potential is enormous and exciting.” Another leading architect, Lord Rogers of Riverside, has written a foreword to the report in which he says, “Under changes to planning rules councils face far more pressure to allocate land for housing than they did in the past. But most have a choice, to either allow significantly more greenfield development or take steps to ensure that underused or abandoned land and buildings are re-used and recycled wherever possible.