The National Trust and CPRE say a brownfield presumption isn’t strong enough and a return to brownfield-first is needed. They have told the Government the best way to strengthen policy on brownfield housing development would be to constrain greenfield development when suitable previously developed land is available locally.
Both responses to DCLG’s National Planning Policy Framework consultation stress that greenfield permissions granted, without consideration of previously used sites, undermines brownfield development.
“Whilst we accept the need to bring forward additional housing, and support a brownfield-first approach, we do believe in good planning and consider that it is also important to ensure that sufficient employment land is available to provide jobs close to where people live,” says the Trust.
“Investing in brownfield development brings much wider public benefits than greenfield in terms of regenerating existing communities, making use of existing infrastructure, improving public health by remediating environmental nuisances such as contamination, and saving precious farmland,” says CPRE.
“Recent evidence also shows that brownfield development can secure a faster delivery of new housing.” But says CPRE, the NPPF gives only weak brownfield encouragement and fails to prioritize use of such sites before greenfield.
“Local plan policies to bring forward brownfield sites have often been frustrated by developers of competing sites being able to argue that their site is more economically viable to develop,” says CPRE. “As a result a number of brownfield regeneration opportunities have been stalled and greenfield sites nearby have been granted planning permission, often over the heads of local authorities.”
CPRE says urban brownfield sites should have priority in local plans and for funding over greenfield sites in the same housing market area.
The Trust says incentives for brownfield development are needed such as tax breaks on stamp duty for small sites sold for housing or allowing vendors to retain the first year’s New Homes Bonus on small sites.