REGENERATION NEWS: Brownfield policy hit by revelations

The key government regeneration policy of building on brownfield land was dealt a body blow last week as English Partnerships admitted that just 11 per cent of sites can be readily reclaimed.

Research by the regeneration agency finds that take-up of previously developed land has averaged around 6,500ha in recent years, compared with the 7,700ha that it says is required to ensure development needs are met.

"If public policy objectives are to be met, the pace of take-up of previously developed land needs to be increased by around 1,000ha per annum," the agency insists.

It adds that a quarter of the 65,500ha of previously developed sites identified in the National Land Use Database (NLUD) is accounted for by "hardcore" sites that have been derelict for nine years. Almost two-thirds of previously developed sites larger than 2ha fall in this category. But the proportion drops to one-sixth in the South East and East of England regions.

Just over half the sites are not worth bringing back into use on strictly commercial grounds. Planning problems are an obstacle on a third of sites.

Just 11 per cent of NLUD land is ready to develop, the agency says.

The report estimates that there is three years' land supply that could be redeveloped, while building 60 per cent of new homes on brownfield land is "achievable in the immediate future". But the target's continued medium-term deliverability "cannot be guaranteed" in light of the government's housing and economic development goals, it adds. The report warns that without measures to improve ready-to-develop brownfield land, non-residential uses may be diverted to greenfield sites.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors regeneration panel chairman Nigel Smith said the figures leave a question mark over the 60 per cent brownfield target's long-term sustainability.

Toward a National Brownfield Strategy can be viewed via www.planning.haynet.com.


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