Suitable development sites not being used for development to save green spaces

By Annabelle Sanderson
18th November 2021
  • New figures show a continued increase in the amount of brownfield land suitable for housing across England yet green spaces still being developed
  • Statistics for Wiltshire Council show ​26 additional brownfield sites available for development compared to 2020 and 94 in total. 
  • Despite the boom in brownfield fresh analysis shows planning permission has stagnated, with long term trends pointing to soaring use of greenfield sites  
  • The proportion of brownfield housing units with planning permission is the lowest since records began – down to 44% in 2021 from 53% in 2020 – and the actual number, at 506,000, is the lowest for four years  
  • Brownfield first policy could save Wiltshire’s green spaces from unnecessary, unwanted development and regenerate towns like Swindon, Chippenham and Trowbridge 
Focusing development primarily on suitable urban brownfield means that housing is near where people already work and live, with infrastructure such as public transport, schools and shops already in place. A key advantage of this approach is a reduction in car use. CPRE Wiltshire is calling for a ‘brownfield first’ policy that ensures all new developments include affordable housing, including Help to Buy.  Anne Henshaw, chairman of CPRE Wiltshire said:     “Developing brownfield sites for housing is a win-win solution that holds back the tide of new buildings on pristine countryside whilst at the same time aiding urban regeneration – maintaining the central hubs of commerce and activity.  In Wiltshire we have seen plans such as those for Swindon, Chippenham and Trowbridge where, instead of looking at the wealth of opportunities which the regeneration of brownfield areas could bring, we have beautiful countryside threatened.    ‘It is therefore heartening to hear that the government increasingly appears to share these views. Recent warm words on developing brownfield land first and enabling communities to push back on any plans to build in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are to be applauded.    ‘Here in Wiltshire CPRE is encouraging small groups to carry out survey work on brownfield sites in their local towns or large villages with a simple toolkit which sets out the information needed and how to record it.      ‘New government guidance has widened the scope for searches and now includes assessing underused spaces such as car parks, vacant areas on industrial sites and better use of town centre retail and office space. We are calling on local people who care about our county and preserving these beautiful areas which, once gone, cannot be restored, to take part.   ‘People involved in preparing Neighbourhood Plans are well placed to carry out these searches and assess how many more sites can be added to the Wiltshire Council brownfield list (last reviewed in 2019) and how many more dwellings can be added.  ‘People worry about densities in town centres, and even on edge of town developments.  They believe high density can lead to “cramming” and rabbit hutch flats and houses. This is only the case where poor design has been employed by the developer.    ‘The government is now requiring all development to be subject to design guides which have been prepared by local people and create beautiful and sustainable places.  European towns and cities have achieved high density with attractive living spaces in their centres. We should do the same.’  
Riverside section of stage 2 of the Greater Manchester Greenbelt Walk in spring
Dr. Andrew Read
Two people searching for something against a cloudy blue sky