Last edited 18 Nov 2020

Brownfield registers

In March 2016, it was announced that councils across England would pioneer new brownfield registers in pilot studies, prior to registers being made mandatory, in a move seen to be a ramping up the government’s brownfield land building commitment.

73 councils trialled brownfield registers to bring forward derelict and underused land for new homes. The aim was to provide house-builders with up-to-date information on all local brownfield sites available for housing, speeding up the process of identifying suitable sites and constructing new homes.

The registers mean local communities are able to identify local sites that could benefit from redevelopment, potentially attracting investment to the area. The Housing and Planning Bill also enables housing-led development sites listed on the registers to be granted ‘permission in principle’; giving developers of new homes on brownfield land a greater degree of certainty about the planning process.

The councils with the most brownfield land in England were identified by the National Land Use Database and were selected to take part in the pilot project:

  • Cherwell
  • County Durham
  • Huntingdonshire
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Medway
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Peterborough
  • Selby
  • Sheffield
  • South Cambridgeshire
  • Sunderland
  • Tonbridge and Malling
  • Wigan

In addition, 36 areas were selected on a competitive basis.

£10,000 government funding was given to each council agreeing to be part of the pilot project to help establish their brownfield registers.

The then Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “We want to help hard working families and first time buyers to own their home and to achieve this by building on brownfield land wherever possible to help protect our valued countryside. The register helps deliver both of these at a stroke. By getting the first councils going in piloting a register of brownfield land for housing we have the first wave of areas pushing for more homes on suitable brownfield land, including affordable housing.”

The Housing and Planning Bill made registers mandatory for all councils in April 2017.

Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell said: "We need to build more homes in this country so making sure that we re-use brownfield land is crucial. We want to bring life back to abandoned sites, create thousands more homes and help protect our valued countryside. These new registers will give local authorities and developers the tools to do this."

The £3 billion Home Builders Fund will be used to support the development of brownfield sites, with an additional £1.2 billion provided to unlock 30,000 Starter Homes on brownfield land.

In April 2017, the government published guidance on the preparation and operation of brownfield registers. Ref

On 11 December 2017, The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) published Brownfield: The Housing Crisis Solved, which suggested that brownfield registers were failing to record small plots that could deliver an extra 188,734 homes.

In March 2020, the government announced that it would launch a register of brownfield sites to map out unused land as part of plans to encourage councils to make the most of this land first, and this will be backed by £400 million to bring this mostly unused land back to use. Sound familiar? For more information see: Housing Secretary plans to get Britain building.

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