New build homes on 'brownfield' sites near 70%

Regeneration is paying significant dividends both in terms of a rising share of new homes being built on 'recycled' land and in major projects to revitalise contaminated sites. LAWE Editor Alexander Catto reviews developments

The good news released last month by John Prescott's ODPM showed that more homes are being built on "recycled" land and at higher densities, according to updated statistics.

Latest Land Use Change Statistics* show 67% of all new dwellings in England were built on "brownfield" sites in both 2002 and 2003, compared with 56 % in 1997. They also show new dwellings in England were built at an average density of 33 dwellings per hectare in 2003, compared with 27 dwellings per hectare in 2002 and only 25 in 1997.

Welcoming the figures, Planning and Housing Minister, Keith Hill, said: "These statistics back up our commitment to get more development on recycled sites and that means affordable homes for young families and key workers where they need them most. As well as delivering more homes these figures show we're using land more efficiently.

"The increased use of recycled land, the creation of 19,000 extra hectares of greenbelt since 1997, and the stringent guidelines in the planning system are all designed to stop unnecessary development and protect the English countryside for generations to come," the Minister added.

Growth at English Partnerships

These latest figures came on the heels of a bullish annual report from English Partnerships, the Government's national regeneration agency, which showed a year of growth.

English Partnerships reported a year of rapid growth with an 80% increase in its investment development programme for the year, to £410 million. * The full statistics can be found on the ODPM website at www.odpm.gov.uk under Planning, Statistics and Land Use Change Statistics.

Keith Hill said: "By playing a vital role in helping to secure major projects such as the £4 billion regeneration the Greenwich Peninsula and Millennium Dome, English Partnerships has demonstrated its key strengths in helping to support the delivery of the Government's Sustainable Communities Plan."

During the year English Partnerships' programme delivered: 78 ha of brownfield land reclaimed and/or serviced 232,000 m2 of floorspace for employment use; there was £384 million of private-sector investment levered in to support the development programme and 3,085 houses were started on site, with 1,066 offered for sale at affordable prices.

Other landmarks included the addition of two sites to the National Coalfields Programme which now brings the total in the programme to 100. English Partnerships has to date invested some £250 million the programme and levered in a further £250 million from the private sector.

Securing planning permission for the Greenwich Peninsula developments over time will deliver a 20,000-seat arena, entertainment, retail and leisure facilities in the Dome itself, together with a regeneration scheme which will accommodate some 10,000 homes and 376,000m2 of commercial space and a hotel. The scheme is expected to create an estimated 24,000 new jobs for the regional economy.

The finalised deal announced in the summer marked the successful completion of all commercial contracts and planning negotiations between national regeneration agency, English Partnerships, and the developers of the Greenwich Peninsula, Meridian Delta Ltd (Lend Lease & Quintain Estates and Development plc), Anschutz Entertainment Group and Greenwich Council.

Coalfields clean-up

English Partnerships has also been busy on the regeneration of former coalfield sites.

Latest to get the go-ahead is the Lambton Cokeworks near Sunderland. The agency has received outline planning approval from Sunderland City Council for 350 new houses and a public house on the site.

Final approval of the housing scheme rests with ODPM as this represents a departure from the approved Unitary Development Plan. The decision is expected in December. Mowlem plc is the preferred contractor for the clean up and is working with Bullen Consultants Ltd to finalise the remediation strategy. After further site investigations, work is expected to begin in earnest in April 2005, and take about two years.

Owing to Lambton's varied history - including colliery, brickworks, tile and gas production, and coking works - the site will need major work, estimated at £19 million.

Although demand for industrial premises will be met at nearby Rainton Bridge (another National Coalfields Programme site) market research has revealed interest in developing the 65-hectare Lambton site mainly for public open space with the houses and pub. English Partnerships is funding the clean up and transformation in partnership with Sunderland City Council which owns the land, and One North East, the Regional Development Agency.

Neil Mortimer, Head of Coalfields for English Partnerships, said: "It is great news that the planning application has been approved by Sunderland City Council. Now the clean up can begin to open up this area to public access, with the building of much-needed new housing."

Councillor Bob Heron, Regeneration and Social Inclusion Portfolio Holder at Sunderland City Council, said: "This is a very welcome next step. The area has been prey to rogue motorbike scramblers and car dumping. Now we have a firm of experts in place to clean up this eyesore and start making it fit for the community to live and relax in."

Kiveton redevelopment

Recently English Partnerships started several other coalfield projects including funding worth almost £10 million for a programme to reclaim the site of a former coal mine at Kiveton, near Rotherham in South Yorkshire. The £9.6 million programme will see the former colliery site, covering 200 acres and currently covered by spoil, transformed into a sustainable public open space. Renaissance South Yorkshire is working with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and the local community on the delivery of the project. The contract for the reclamation and restoration of the site has been awarded to Bury-based contractor Cheetham Hill Construction Ltd.

Key features of the 15-month reclamation programme include: the creation of a large public open space, incorporating nature walks and fishing areas; the planting of around quarter of a million new trees on the cleared site; and securing the future line for the Chesterfield Canal and investigations into the possible reuse of the Pit Head baths.

When the reclamation work has been completed, Renaissance South Yorkshire will hand over the site to the Land Restoration Trust (LRT) and British Waterways to manage.

Chatterley Whitfield colliery

The agency has also recently submitted a planning application for the first phase of works at the former Chatterley Whitfield colliery site in Stoke-on-Trent. Chatterley Whitfield is recognised as the best remaining example of a coalmining complex in the UK and as such, part of the site was given Scheduled Ancient Monument status by English Heritage in 1993.

In 1999 The Chatterley Whitfield Partnership was formed to create a positive future for the 80 ha site to benefit the local community and the wider region. The Partnership, initiated by English Heritage, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Joan Walley MP, also includes Advantage West Midlands, the Government Office for the West Midlands and the Heritage Lottery Fund. In 2002 the site was also added to English Partnerships' National Coalfields Programme.

The planning application includes the provision of Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) business accommodation and skills training in the former Main Office complex adjacent to the site entrance. A future planning application will be submitted to upgrade the access road between the A527 and the Chatterley Whitfield project site itself.

The planning application has been prepared by Fielden Clegg Bradley Architects who have been appointed to undertake the masterplanning of the site and the architectural refurbishment of the office complex. The works associated with this planning application and the future access road upgrade are part of a package being jointly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and English Partnerships.

Neil Mortimer, Senior Regeneration Manager for Coalfields at English Partnerships, said, "The team has been working very hard over the last year alongside the local community and stakeholders to develop a plan which will sustain a wide variety of social, economic and environmental mixes. The proposed plan we have submitted to Stoke-on-Trent City Council is the first step in bringing forward a unique vision of a place with a strong sense of identity which enhances and respects the heritage of the area."

Andrew Patterson, Project Director at English Heritage with responsibility for Chatterley Whitfield, added, "The plans for Chatterley Whitfield aim to conserve, interpret and develop the potential of this tremendous site to the highest international standards as a beacon of good practice and heritage-led regeneration. The building-skills training proposed within the refurbished Main Office complex can assist local people in taking advantage of the investment in Chatterley Whitfield and indeed the investment in the wider city regeneration."

Subject to planning approval being granted, works are expected to commence on site early in the New Year. It is anticipated that this phased approach to the regeneration of Chatterley Whitfield will stimulate further interest in the development of the scheme.


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