This is as opposed to 'brownfield land' or ‘previously-developed land’ (PDL), ‘…which is or was occupied by a permanent structure, including the curtilage of the developed land and any associated fixed surface infrastructure.’ (ref Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3) 2010).
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) encourages '...the effective use of land by reusing land that has been previously developed (brownfield land), provided that it is not of high environmental value...’
The Environment Agency suggests that, 'Concentrating development on brownfield sites can help to make the best use of existing services such as transport and waste management. It can encourage more sustainable lifestyles by providing an opportunity to recycle land, clean up contaminated sites, and assist environmental, social and economic regeneration. It also reduces pressure to build on greenfield land and helps protect the countryside.' (ref Environment Agency: Position Paper 2003).
Developers and designers can sometimes instinctively prefer the idea of building on a greenfield site as it can offer a ‘blank canvas’ with fewer constraints and potentially lower costs. However, greenfield sites can come with their own problems, offering few drivers to steer the design in a particular direction, access issues and poor connectivity as well as difficulties with utilities supply, and greater exposure to the elements. They can also result in a loss of amenity land, ecological habitats, biodiversity and agricultural land.
Land that has been developed, is only very rarely reverted back to greenfield land.
Greenfield sites should not be confused with 'green belts'. Green belts establish a buffer zone between urban and rural land, separating town and country and preserving land for forestry, agriculture and wildlife where environmental conditions can be improved and conservation encouraged. Greenfield sites need not be within a green belt.
NB in 2014, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) suggested that a new land classification should be created, ‘amberfield land’, which would identify ‘ready to go land’. It suggested that creating a pipeline of ready-to-go amberfield land would increase the supply of housing and create new development opportunities.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings
Featured articles and news
PCSAs enable clients to employ contractors before the main contract commences. Read our introductory article.
ICE 200 brings together transformative projects from the past 200 years - and the engineers behind them.
Dame Judith Hackitt hosts an industry summit to kick start the second phase of the review.
This article explains the Buildings Regulations completion certificate, what it is, and when its needed.
Graphene has many potential applications, but when will it start being used in civil engineering?
Increasing productivity – now more than ever as we lead up to Brexit – should be the sector’s number one priority in 2018.
Carillion's collapse causes Construction Leadership Council to delay the construction sector deal report.
Urban Heritage, Development and Sustainability: international frameworks, national and local guidance.
What will the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) mean for you when they come into force in May?
Business Secretary chairs a new taskforce to monitor and advise on mitigating the impacts of Carillion’s liquidation.
Sir John Armitt is appointed the new chair of the National Infrastructure Commission.
High quality and high density homes - is it what we need or is it storing up trouble?