Andrew Motion – CRRE President-has thankfully stopped talking, confusingly, about 1.5 million brownfield sites but instead ‘
There are enough brownfield sites in England to accommodate 1.5m homes close to jobs, services and infrastructure.
That is much better, but what about the claim. The 1/5 million figures comes from sadly out of date NLUD data but used selectively, as not all of these are suitable for housing or ‘close to jobs, services and infrastructure.’
As NLAs analysis of NLUS shows
NLUD sites have capacity of c.1m when needs over the next fifteen years are for 3.3m new homes. Even if there are further sources of untapped potential, the national gap is likely to be very significant.
Of course brownfield sites are not a fixed stock, new brownfield sites are being created all the time, but I have seen no analysis suggesting that the future likely flow of brownfield sites will be of a scale to meet anything like the flow required to meet housing need plus backlog over the next 15 years. This is not to suggest that the rate of flow of brownfield sites cannot and should not be increased, particularly in the short term. But there is no evidence that it is possible over the lifetime of all local plans to nationally meet full objectively assessed needs whilst at the same time not increasing the rate of greenfield releases over that timescale.
excluding London, almost a fifth (18.6%) of brownfield capacity lies outside built up areas, typically on sites such as old airfields and former industrial areas, some of which may not be well located in terms of transport accessibility or in proximity to jobs and services.
So there is no evidence that ‘There are enough brownfield sites in England to accommodate 1.5m homes close to jobs, services and infrastructure. ‘ The true figure is somewhere between 8000 Thousand to 1 million. So Andrew Motion was exageerating brownfield potential by up to 100%. rember the way he framed the issue was in terms of current stock of brownfield sites not future flow.
Only in London and the North West is there any significant capacity for brownfield land to meet housing requirements. In London almost half of the projected new homes that the city requires up to 2030 could be met by brownfield sites (at present, the remaining half largely goes unmet). Around 1m new homes are required around London (in the South East and East of England), but there is brownfield capacity equivalent to just a fifth of this. In the South West and East Midlands there is also only enough brownfield capacity to meet around a fifth of projected household growth. Even within regions, not all of the
brownfield capacity is in locations where people want to live or where job growth is greatest.
What precisely is the CPRE line? Is it that we are building too many home in the countryside, or in the wrong place in the countryside? Clearly they rightly say that we should be building more on brownfield sites. But we are building only half or less of the housing we need, are they claiming that it would be possible to meet that need in full and still reduce the rate at which we build in the countryside. If there are then I think they have a duty to commission and publish research showing firstly where, secondly how, and thirdly in which way it could be financed and made viable. If they are not able to ‘show and tell’ then skeptics will still claim that when push comes to shove they would be happy to see very low levels of house-building if it meant less building on Greenfiled sites, and they would be very happy if they caused such a commotion and political panic that a government of whatever political persuasion would panic and u turn creating a situation where housebulding groound to a halt.
Dont get me wrong, I think density on brownfield sites can and should be much higher, but making this viable is another issue and would require major goveernment subsidy, and even then it would not be anything like anough especially in the areas highlighted in the NLP report, new urban extensions and Garden Cities, rather than the scattergun of the NPPF ruining villages everywhere.