Brownfield Sites will Never be ‘Filled’ – so the #HousingWP will simply mean Slowing House building Down

Sun on HWP

 local authorities told the green belt is no longer sacrosanct for development. They will be encouraged to start building on it once brownfield sites have been filled.

Simple simple maths on Stock and Flow for Theresa May and her Sith Aides (there can be only two). 

How many housing units gets built on brownfield each year?

The last data we have from 2014 showed that 60% of new residential address built in 2013-14 were constructed on previously developed land. It falls to 45% for net additional addresses.  This figure has risen to that which it was for several years before the recession.  So we can assume it will be steady in the future in a ‘policy off’ scenario

Of course sites become ‘previously developed’ all the time – and CPRE point out that NLUD data on available site remains static – so that suggests a steady ‘inflow’ of brownfield sites roughly matching the ‘outflow’.

Last year around 170,000 houses were built.   Again assuming a ‘policy change off’ scenario that equates to around 76,000 houses per year brownfield and brownfield land suitable and available for housing of around the same number.

So that’s the flows in and out whats the stock.

The NLUD data now rather out of date and dating back to 2010 suggest 325,000 or so.  In 2015 the Dept finally agreed to update it and provide a brownfield register which we have not seen yet.

CPRE always claimed a figure of 1 1/2 million before 2014, not the need over 15 years is 3 million.  To their credit they commissioned research estimating it at around 1 million.  However most of this land was that already with planning permission and so not net additional supply.  So if we dont have 5 year supplies things were only going to get worse not better.

They estimated a further 550,000 homes can be located on suitable vacant or derelict land.  This is the figure that should be quoted.  Being generous lets use it.

So lets assume in our neutral forecast we have a brownfield ‘stock’ which is being added to by around 76,000 (land for equivalent housing units)/annum and being depleted by 76,000 units/annum.

Accepting the HWP target of 300,000 units per annum (which including drawing down backlog and restoring affordability to 1997 levels) then 25% of the houses we need are being developed on Brownfield Sites. But the shortfall will have risen by 300,000-175,000=125,000.

Lets assume two policy scenarios.

In scenario one brownfield development stays static and all increase come from greenfield.

In the other the rate of brownfield development doubles to around 150,000/annum.

In the first 75% of all housing must come on greenfield sites to meet the target.

In the second 175,000 a year in first year is brownfield, 58%, so 125,000 greenfield units must be built, a 75% increase on the current number of houses built on Greenfield.

But that rate cant be sustained because the stock is depleting by 500,000-175,000+76,000=  around 100,000/annum.  So within 5 years the stock is depleted to only 76,000 /annum of new brownfield sites coming forward.

The numbers dont add up.  Even in a heroic assumption of brownfield development doubling over night most of it would be used up in 5 years leaving only a trickle of new brownfield sites which would never run out and provide only 25% of the supply we need.  In this context ‘Brownfield first’ if applied extremely as in the phrase ‘filled up’ would mean 75% of those needing a home would be without one.

There are policy alternatives

  1. build all brownfield sites at 4x the density requiring public subsidy if necessary and families being forced (at point of a gun?) to move to areas with more brownfield sites- like milltowns with few jobs.
  2. Increasing the rate at which brownfield sites come forward by 4x redeveloping all employment sites assuring those forced to move at a point of a gun have no job to move to even if they could move freely (which of Course Theresa Maybe doesnt like).
  3. Dont build housing if it means building on greenfield – reduce housing targets by 75% and everybody lives in bunk beds in their mums house.

Its a none starter policy reminiscent of the early policies of John Prescott which failed and which will be forced by the continuing housing crisis to be reversed.

 

 

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One thought on “Brownfield Sites will Never be ‘Filled’ – so the #HousingWP will simply mean Slowing House building Down

  1. Pingback: Javid’s Numbers Don’t Add up – Avoiding ‘tearing up countryside’ needs 16+ storeys not 4 | Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

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