Government launches online brownfield database

The UK Government has launched a pilot website which contains the locations of selected brownfield sites, plus details of previous land use and planning status. The site will eventually allow subscribers to download landuse data for both urban and rural areas across the UK.

Developed in partnership with the DETR, Ordnance Survey, the local government Improvement and Development Agency (IDA) and English Partnerships, the National Land Use Database (NLUD) website contains information about previous land use and planning status at sites that were vacant or derelict in 1998. To date, information has been included for over 3,500 sites in 46 local authority areas.

Eventually, the Database will be updated to provide regular snapshots of the stock of previously developed vacant and derelict land as well as information about land and buildings which have been redeveloped and any additional previously developed sites which have become available.

The website’s data will not only help central, regional and local government to re-use land and buildings, but will ultimately be available to commercial organisations wishing to target redevelopment opportunities.

It is also planned to extend the NLUD to cover other land uses, not just previously developed land. There will be details of agricultural as well as urban land, which will be broken down into types: for instance, arable, commercial urban. “Eventually, licensees will be able to compare the actual land surface of a brownfield site with data from other databases, for instance for contaminated land,” Steven Brandwood, local authority adviser at IDA, told edie. “They will also be able to look at how urban sprawl is spreading into green belt areas and start to monitor that.”

The information, which is free for evaluation purposes at the moment, is initially intended to be used for internal rather than commercial use and can only be accessed under licence. Comments from users of the database will be used to help plan future development for its commercial use in the redevelopment of brownfield land.

“At this stage, the service is free, partly because the information is out of date by about a year, and also because we are trying to find out what people want from the database and what sort of people would be interested in using it,” said Brandwood. “When it’s completed, we would probably be looking to charge for it. It depends on the type of person who wants to use it. For instance if charities or NGOs may get it for free, while we might charge the commercial sector.

The NLUD information will be updated starting this autumn, with results in spring 2001 and thereafter annually.

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