Brownfield bill would boost remediation

A parliamentary proposal which would ensure planners prioritised brownfield development despite the rush to meet a growing need for housing would not only protect the countryside, but would also ensure a steady stream of work for land remediators.

An Early Day Motion put forward by David Drew, Labour MP for Stroud, has received cross-party support, with over 100 MPs adding their signatures.

The motion calls for an amendment to Government planning proposals which the MPs fear would undermine the principle that new build should take place on brownfield sites whenever possible.

“We’re trying to reaffirm the existing policy that you should look for brownfield sites first, in the light of all the changes coming in on the back of the Barker Report, which identifies a need for a lot more housing,” Mr Drew told edie.

“It’s important that we don’t lose site of the need for appropriate development and make sure that the demand for housing doesn’t mean a rush for Greenfield development and we don’t let this slip.”

Favouring brownfield development over Greenfield is a well-established planning policy and one that is at the heart of the land remediation business.

“It’s always been the case, and something like 70% of new build last year was on brownfield sites, but we’ve got to keep that momentum going and it’s got to remain a key priority,” said Mr Drew.

“You can’t have an absolute insistence it’s always got to be brownfield development, but it means that if you’re looking for a new site, it’s got to be top of the list. There are still an awful lot of sites that could be brought forward with the right effort.”

Mr Drew said that if passed the legislation would mean more opportunities for companies working in the contaminated land sector.

“That should come with it. Some of it is remediation of existing sites and some of it has to be about taking some quite difficult sites and being creative in tackling them.”

Liberal Democrat spokesman for communities and local government, Andrew Stunell, added: “We are asking the Government to make sure the final version of this policy gives priority to recycling derelict urban land and bringing empty buildings back into use. There are over 100,000 empty homes in the North West of England.

“Our homes use more energy than our cars, and so the sustainability of new development and its implications for communities, neighbourhoods and landscapes must be part of the equation.”

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) is also lobbying MPs who have yet to sign to add their names to the list of supporters.

“With parts of our towns and cities crying out for redevelopment and regeneration it makes no sense to waste these opportunities in a drive to push up housing supply,” said CPRE planning officer Kate Gordon.

“The Government’s new policy would deprive councils of vital powers to prevent developers from cherry-picking easy greenfield sites and ignoring less profitable brownfield sites.

“Urban renaissance and the environment need to be at the heart of planning policy, not at its periphery or left out altogether. If the Government is serious about creating conditions in which sustainable communities can thrive it needs to do better than this.”

Sam Bond

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