LONG-DERELICT SITES in 12 local authority areas in England will benefit from new investment under a pilot programme launched last month.
The programme, led by national regeneration agency English Partnerships (EP) and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, is part of a wider strategy aimed at bringing England's 66,000ha of brownfi eld land back into 'beneficial use'.
EP identifi d more than 2,000 long-term or 'hardcore' sites covering over 17,000ha lying vacant or derelict since at least 1993.
Most are in the north of England and are, on average, over 8ha. EP said the sites had not been regenerated for various reasons including contamination, market failure, cost and planning difficulties.
The 12 pilot areas are Easington, Barrow-in-Furness, Manchester, Sheffield, Mansfield, Dudley, Milton Keynes, Ipswich, Tower Hamlets, Barking & Dagenham, Bristol and Kerrier in Cornwall.
Local brownfield partnerships will assess barriers to redevelopment. These will include representatives from EP, local authorities, regional development agencies, developers, local business and community groups.
It is hoped at least one hardcore site in each area will be developed for commercial or recreational use.
Although EP has some money available for the pilots, funding will be sought from the private sector.
Professor Paul Syms, English Partnerships' National Brownfield Strategy director, said: 'The programme will tease out the practicalities of bringing these sites back into beneficial use.
'While there will be common themes, the spread of pilot areas means we will be able to assess the impact of local infl uences and come up with solutions to a wide variety of development barriers.' Work will be begin in each pilot area over the next two months and the fi ndings fed into the National Brownfi eld Strategy document, due to be published in early 2006.