The UK’s rich industrial heritage, rising population and a constrained space makes the reuse of previously developed or brownfield land an essential part of the delivery of new developments throughout the UK, a new report argues.
Further establishing this need, Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) has launched the report, Brownfield First: making better use of our land, drawing on long-term expertise to identify ways in which development on brownfield land can be sustainably increased benefitting the environment and the economy.
While currently only 10-20 per cent of development in the UK takes place on sites classified as brownfield, the latest statistics from the Homes and Communities Agency indicates that there is approximately 61,920 ha of brownfield land in England, with 54 per cent considered derelict or vacant while the remainder is in some form of use with potential for redevelopment.
DCLG figures (2010) suggests approximately 35,000 ha of this brownfield land is suitable for housing development, further establishing the potential of brownfield in creating sustainable communities combining housing, retail, as well as commercial or industrial development.
Brownfield First: making better use of our land is the latest is a series of EIC work on sustainable development, and contaminated land, a portfolio of work existing since EIC’s founding in 1995.
As stated by Peter Atchison, Chairman of EIC Contaminated Land Working Group, “Brownfield first offers the practical solution to two issues facing the UK: the need for more sustainable development and use of previously developed site.”
Recent reports have suggested that brownfield land has the capacity to support over 1.8 million new homes, yet despite this recent Government figures show a decline in the proportion of homes being built on such land.
Distinguishing EIC’s report is the key recommended action for ‘Reforming Land Remediation Relief’ in order to overcome financial challenges to those implementing forms of land remediation, this recommendation includes the details of an expertly guided, feasible pre-tax credit protocol, as well as various forms of tax relief.
As stated by Michael Lunn, Public Affairs Director at EIC, “The Government’s plans to develop a Brownfield register under the Housing and Planning Act is welcomed, but many questions still need to be answered with regard to the details of the register, and the implementation and delivery of brownfield sites for housing.
“Although its right to focus on housebuilding on brownfield we must not forget the opportunities for commercial development as well as the delivery of infrastructure on brownfield sites. Indeed EIC Members feel strongly that all brownfield sites should be considered, not just those allocated for approved housing schemes by 2020.
“Furthermore, to enable sites to be brought forward we need Treasury to review and challenge the financial model to which brownfield sites are delivered.”
Brownfield First: making better use of our land makes governmental objectives practical through refinements to foster the development of not just housing within the UK but also the supporting infrastructure for sustainable communities.
Concentrating on the many benefits, the well-established nature of brownfield policy, as well as expertly guided refinements to the government’s current efforts to boost brownfield use with a plan of action to ensure safe, sustainable and economic developments throughout the UK.
Particularly focused on addressing the economic challenges of utilising brownfield sites that are not adequately addressed in current government initiatives, the report allows all levels of government and industry leaders to access cumulative advice from historically successful experts dealing with the complexities of brownfield on a daily basis.
While the Housing and Planning Act has sought to prioritise brownfield land development, not all the challenges are fully addressed.
It is only through engaging in industry suggested refinements that EIC remains hopeful that the process set by UK government will render not only the ambitious target to achieve planning consent on 90 per cent of sites recorded on the new Brownfield Registers by 2020, but that such will also be done in a sustainable, fair and incentivised way.