The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has published new research which shows that suitable brownfield sites across England can provide at least 1.1 million new homes.
The Government had described a previous CPRE estimate of around 1 million homes as ‘wildly over optimistic’. Now, using the Government’s own pilot brownfield register scheme, CPRE has calculated that suitable brownfield sites can provide between 1.1 and 1.4 million new homes.
“We need to build good, affordable homes quickly in the right places,” said Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). “No one is suggesting that we will be able to provide all the homes we need without ever building on a greenfield site. But the Government needs to do much more to reconcile its commitment both to build a million homes and to protect the countryside, including the Green Belt it recently described as ‘sacrosanct’.”
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% increase in the number of homes that could be provided on suitable sites, with planning permissions for such sites increasing by 21% and the number of suitable sites being identified by 50%.
Applying the same 11% increase to the 2010-2012 figures for the whole country gives a new estimated minimum capacity of 1.1 million homes on suitable brownfield sites.
“These official figures show that there is plenty of suitable brownfield land available, and that the supply of brownfield land continues to grow,” said Spiers. “The government and local authorities must now ensure that developers use it. This will not only save countryside, it will help ensure thriving towns and cities.”
It is also worth noting that the study of the 53 pilot registers produced a figure – 273,000 – that is 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.