Enough brownfield land for 1.3 million new homes…

4th November 2020

CPRE have released a new report which shows that, contrary to government claims that the current planning system is slowing down housebuilding, we already have enough brownfield land to accommodate 1.3 million new homes.

The figures demonstrate that there is already enough available and suitable land in the planning system to meet the government’s ambition to build 300,000 homes per year for the next five years (this Parliament), calling into question the hugely controversial plans to deregulate the planning system that has been proposed by ministers.

CPRE  research, released in the 2020 edition of our annual ‘Recycling our land: the state of brownfield’ report, has found that there’s already enough brownfield land available to meet the government’s own targets.

Brownfield land – land that has previously been built on and now sits derelict or vacant – provides a valuable resource in the protection of greenfield land from development.

The analysis clearly shows that the planning system is not slowing building rates. There is currently planning permission for more than half a million (565,564) units on brownfield land.

‘Over a third of these plots – half a million – already have planning permission in place, meaning they’re ‘shovel-ready’.’

CPRE 'recycling our land' research, 2020

And not only is there enough space on brownfield sites for 1.3 million homes but over a third of these plots – half a million – already have planning permission in place, meaning they’re ‘shovel-ready’ and waiting.

It seems the planning system, the target of controversial new government proposals that would see its regulations loosened, is not what’s slowing down building.

Our chief executive, Crispin Truman, said:

‘Today’s figures clearly show that the planning system is not what is ailing our housing market. It’s clear the government have gravely misdiagnosed the problem. It is slow build-out rates and market-led housing that are blocking the quality affordable housing that rural communities are crying out for’.:

‘If there’s enough land in the planning system to meet the government’s own housing targets, what will an overhaul of the planning system, with rushed and untested changes, really achieve?’

“If there is enough land in the planning system to meet the government’s own housing targets, what will an overhaul of the planning system, with rushed and untested changes, really achieve? It’s clear the government has gravely misdiagnosed the problem – slow build-out rates and market-led housing are blocking the quality affordable housing that rural communities are crying out for.”

“But there is a real prize in brownfield – what says ‘build back better’ more than adopting a truly ‘brownfield first’ approach that will breathe new life into the long-forgotten and derelict areas in our towns, cities and villages? This approach will deliver huge benefits, building the affordable homes in areas where communities want to live, providing access to better transport links and amenities and services they need.”
“As things stand, the government’s proposed changes will result in a free-for-all, allowing big housebuilders to build what they like, where they like and when they like. Now more than ever is it vital that the government listens to local communities, promotes a genuinely ‘brownfield first’ policy and brings forward more brownfield sites for development so we can build more affordable, well-designed homes.”

To make best use of suitable brownfield land, CPRE is urging the government to introduce a genuine ‘brownfield first’ policy that ensures suitable previously developed or under-used land is prioritised for redevelopment over green spaces and countryside.
Clearer definitions and guidelines must be given so that the registers act as a true pipeline, identifying all possible brownfield sites and recording their suitability for uses other than housing, including uses that protect the biodiversity or heritage value of sites where applicable.