Consensus on the Roughly 1 Million Brownfield Potential – But not yet on the Greenfield Housing we Need

One of the reasons John Prescott commissioned NLUD – now seemingly withering on the vine due to lack of nvestment – was to end the tedious arguments about just how much their is out their.

It is heartening therefore that the CPRE Study ‘From Wasted Space to Living Spaces’ and the recent Planning analysis come to the roughly same figure – around 1 million.

To this you need to add newly arising brownfield and any not identified in NLUD.

The CPRE report states:

The figure identifies brownfield sites with existing planning permission as well as derelict and vacant land, but does not include sites with the potential for development or land that will shortly become brownfield. The 2014 Further Alterations to the London Plan, for example, states that brownfield ‘opportunity areas’ – which include land still in use and land yet to be designated as brownfield – could accommodate 300,000 new homes.


This is a mistake as their is a specific NLUD category for any other PD land with housing potential.   In London in opportunity areas this will have been identified for many years.  It is only brand new opportunities and opportunity areas that will have to be included.

The data that for 82 authorities 67ha of new brownfield land arose indicates that for 350 or so would be enough for around 157,000 houses over 15 years.

Ok so Professor Glenn Bramley recommends that we need around 300,000 units a year, so thats around 4 years supply, suggesting that over the next 15 years were we to meet OAN more than 2/3rds of housing would be on Greenfield sites, all else being equal.

Of course the CPRE report recommends we reintroduce brownfield first.  But this only makes a difference on appeal.  Any local plan can implement brownfield first if they have enough viable and suitable sites to do so.  How many plans in England have enough such sites over a 15 year period (as opposed to over the first 5 years) I cant think of any.

The Planning Analysis shows that 90% of these sites are already in the planning system, so the potential to decrease Greenfield allocations is really low.

So lets hope the debate moves on to one of density and deliverability, and the unsustainability of the NPPF scattergun approach to appeal led housing in villages, rather than how much Brownfield land we have, a debate that only got going from lack of data.  Lets hope the CPRE change their focus, that might not be what their activists want or what UKIP campaigns on but it is what the data shows.  If the CPRE accepts that we have to build enough to meet need rather than be NIMBYs then if we build at current densities the evidence shows that simply building more brownfield will use up the stock of brownfield sites in few years so that, even with a new inflow of brownfield sites, the % of brownfield site would fall for 4-5 years then just dramatically shoot up.  So it would be a phrric victory.

Ill do a mathematical model to illustrate the point in the next few days and post outputs with different policy assumptions.



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