CPRE studied the findings of 53 councils that have published their data on suitable sites, and found that these areas alone could provide 273,000 homes.
Comparing this new data with the last available data from 2010-2012, CPRE noted an 11 per cent increase in the number of homes that could be provided on suitable sites, with planning permissions for such sites increasing by 21 per cent and the number of suitable sites being identified by 50 per cent.
Applying the same 11 per cent increase to the 2010-2012 figures for the whole country gave a new estimated minimum capacity of 1.1 million homes on suitable brownfield sites, CPRE insisted.
It also noted that the study of the 53 pilot registers produced a figure of 273,000 that was both higher than previous government estimates of countrywide brownfield housing capacity, and almost enough for the participating councils to meet their five-year housing targets without releasing any countryside for development.
The Government created the brownfield registers pilot last year in order to secure a consistent set of data on brownfield sites suitable for development. The registers enable the Government to monitor its commitment that 90% of all brownfield sites have planning permission by 2020, and deliver 200,000 new homes on those sites.
CPRE’s research suggests that this ambition for new homes should be much higher. In November 2014, they published their From wasted space to living spaces report, which found that at least 1 million homes could be provided on suitable brownfield land in England.
The Department for Communities and Local Government described this estimate as ‘wildly over optimistic’ in its Housing & Planning Bill Impact Assessment of October 2015 (page 70). The document claimed that ‘only a fraction will be suitable for housing’, which appeared to disregard the fact that the estimate was based only on sites councils considered ‘suitable for housing’.
The new number of at least 1.1 million is based on data that the Government has itself commissioned.
CPRE is calling for national policies that ensure brownfield development is prioritised over greenfield development and support the provision of new homes on suitable brownfield sites. These include brownfield registers across the country, and an instruction for councils to refuse permission for greenfield sites where they would compete with the development of nearby brownfield land.
Recent CPRE research also showed that on average brownfield sites are developed half a year faster than greenfield while previous research demonstrated that brownfield is a renewable resource
The Government has also incentivised brownfield land through the rollout of the Starter Home Land Fund encouraging Local Authorities to promote suitable sites. There may be differing views on brownfield’s potential to supply, but the appetite is there.
Developers, land agents and architects examining brownfield sites must undertake serious assessment of land quality to understand its viability – and to meet this appetite.
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