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England has sufficient brownfield land for at least one million new homes, says CPRE report

A report commissioned by countryside campaign group the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has said that sufficient brownfield land exists in England to build at least one million new homes.

CPRE has said the report, entitled From Waste Space to Living Spaces (64-page / 5.8 MB PDF) provided "the first comprehensive figure for brownfield capacity since the end of mandatory local authority submissions to the National Land Use Database (NLUD) in 2010".

The report, conducted by researchers from the University of the West of England, analysed NLUD data submitted by local authorities since 2010. It found that previously developed sites with capacity for more than 405,000 homes already had outline or detailed planning permission and identified capacity for another 550,000 homes on "suitable vacant and derelict land".

The research did not include sites that would shortly become brownfield land or those with the potential to be developed. The total identified capacity for 976,000 new homes therefore represented "the absolute minimum capacity of brownfield land in England", the report said. The research also found that new brownfield sites replaced those developed each year, with the 1,658 hectares developed and removed from NLUD in 2010 replaced by 1,725 hectares of development land in 2011.

CPRE made a number of recommendations following the research. These included the reintroduction of "a clear and consistent 'brownfield first' approach in national planning policy"; the return of sub-regional or county level planning; a focus on the regeneration of large brownfield sites in multiple ownership; and making reporting to NLUD mandatory.

"There is no urgent need to sprawl onto greenfield sites," said architect Richard Rogers in the foreword to the report. "We still have capacity for more than one million homes on brownfield sites, and some estimates suggest that total capacity could be 1.5 million homes."

"As this report indicates, there is nothing to suggest that our supply of brownfield sites is running low," said Rogers. "We should focus on better planning and funding systems to build new towns - but in our towns and cities, not on inaccessible and unsustainable greenfield sites."

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