The Government yesterday published its response to English Partnerships' recommendations on policies to coordinate the redevelopment of brownfield land across England.
Formal adoption of the recommendations, announced by Under Secretary of State Iain Wright MP, paves the way for implementation of the first ever National Brownfield Strategy for England, designed to reuse over 52,000ha of previously developed, vacant or derelict land in support of Government ambitions to build 3M new homes by 2020.
At least 60% of the homes will be on brownfield sites, protecting greenfield land at the same time as tackling derelict, blighted areas within existing communities.
Wright said: "Since 1997, the amount of new development on brownfield land has risen significantly from 60 to 75% - a real achievement. But we want to go further and regenerate the most challenging sites.
"Brownfield land development is not just about building much needed homes, it is also about decontaminating blighted areas, recycling derelict sites and creating open green spaces in urban centres.
"It is important that everyone works together to make the best use of brownfield land. It is the best way to protect the countryside and improve the quality of urban land without encroaching on the greenbelt."
English Partnerships national brownfield advisor Professor Paul Syms welcomed Government’s response saying: "We are extremely pleased with the Government's adoption of our recommendations, which supports our belief that literally thousands of ugly and derelict sites, which disproportionately blight entire communities, could and should be completely turned around. There is a real opportunity for landowners, particularly in the public sector, to bring forward more sites for regeneration.
The National Brownfield Strategy recognises that many brownfield sites are difficult to deal with, and that not all are suitable for housing or commercial development, using a "develop or reuse first" principle to ensure that land nonetheless has a designated use beneficial to the community. A total of nine policy strands will be implemented across four parallel strands between now and 2013:
Strand One – Policies to identify, assess and prepare brownfield land for reuse to ensure an adequate supply of land when it is needed;
Strand Two – Policies to safeguard the environment by ensuring the effective and efficient reuse of land;
Strand Three – Policies to enhance communities and contribute to sustainability by removing blight and ensuring the long-term management of restored land; and
Strand Four – Policies to address a shortage of skills in dealing with brownfield land by meeting the need for appropriately qualified and experienced practitioners.
Yesterday, English Partnerships and the Academy for Sustainable Communities also published plans for consultation, designed to meet specific recommendations under strand four of the strategy. English Partnerships' chairman Robert Napier delivered the keynote address, speaking on zero carbon homes and communities, biodiversity, and English Partnerships' wider role to increase the use of surplus public sector land, on which 200,000 new homes will be built by 2016.