'More carrots' needed for brownfield development
Government needs to offer more incentives to encourage brownfield redevelopment and carry out a major reassessment of housing needs in the UK to support building targets.
Stewart Jackson, Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government, told the conference that for too long, brownfield development had been about "a stick and not a carrot".
He also criticised Government housing figures being used as the basis for house building targets on all types of land.
"No-one knows where those housing figures come from," he said.
He added: "We have had such changes with older people and immigration that we need to step back and look at the methodology that the Office of National Statistics is using.
"It may be that we need three million homes by 2020 but let's get them in the right place, let's get them in a mixed economy."
If the Tories come to power in the next election, they would be committed to protecting greenbelt and ensuring that brownfield redevelopment does not include building on back gardens, he promised delegates.
The party has campaigned against so-called garden-grabbing, and earlier this year claimed that the practice had doubled under Labour.
New Defra minister Huw Irranca-Davies, who joined the department following this month's reshuffle (see related story) and will be responsible for contaminated land policy, addressed the conference in a brief pre-recorded video.
He told delegates: "I am very pleased to have taken on this important and sometimes very difficult area of policy.
"We are facing challenging times. I know there have been problems in the past but it is time to look to the future."