Last edited 28 May 2016

Amberfield land

On 15 September 2014, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) published Property in Politics, a report which they claim sets out a bold new vision for the property market. The report followed the largest ever consultation carried out by the RICS.

One of the key recommendations of the report was that a new land classification should be created, ‘amberfield land’, which identifies ‘ready to go land’. It suggests that creating a pipeline of ready-to-go amberfield land would increase the supply of housing and create new development opportunities.

Amberfield land would be an addition to the existing classifications of; greenbelt or ‘greenfield land’, which establishes a buffer zone between urban and rural land, and ‘brownfield land’, defined in Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3) in 2010 as ‘Previously-developed land…which is or was occupied by a permanent structure...’

There have been various attempts to introduce policies to encourage new development on brownfield land and to protect the green belt. However, brownfield sites can be difficult to develop, and in an interview on BBC2’s Newsnight in November 2012, planning minister Nick Boles, suggested that more than 388,000 hectares of open countryside would have to be built on to meet housing demand.

The RICS suggest that ‘both classifications block or slow development and local growth is being impeded by extensive battles to bring forward land.’

The new classification would create better certainty, reduce costs, encourage infrastructure investment and allow faster development of new homes. Re-designating land as amberfield would allow local authorities to showcase sites that are ready to go, and attract inward investment.

The RICS propose that local authorities and local communities work together to include a set quota of amberfield land in local plans that are ready to be developed for housing. They suggest in the announcement of the report that this quota should be between 30% and 50% (although it is not clear what this represents) but that it would be adjusted through a process of open consultation to meet the needs of the local area. RICS also propose that amberfield sites would have to be developed within five years, and so local authorities would have to approve planning consent within a set time frame, or risk being classed as ‘failing’.

Other recommendations in the report include:


  • Implement development delivery units (DDU’s) and housing zones.
  • Issue property tax forward guidance within its first 100 days.
  • Deliver a professional private rented sector.

Planning and development:

  • Embed local plan enforcement.
  • Lead a resource revolution in planning.


  • Create a national procurement framework.
  • Introduce a construction skills investment charter.
  • Implement a construction finance hub.


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