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Brownfield building sites ‘not silver bullet’ to solve housing crisis - warning

Building on brownfield sites may not be the silver bullet it is made out to be, the government has been warned.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove excitedly announced yesterday that every council in England will be told that they will need to prioritise brownfield developments and instructed to be less bureaucratic and more flexible in applying policies that halt housebuilding on brownfield land.  

However, agency executives have warned that these aren’t typically the types of development where the demand is.


Jason Howes, national managing director at Sequence Land & New Homes, said: “We are pleased to see that the Government supports development on under used brownfield sites and we hope very much that this is also encouraged by the local authority planning department.

“Whilst this is positive news, the majority of brownfield to residential schemes often work better as apartment schemes, as opposed to house schemes, to help maximise the density. The only issue that we feel needs to be considered by the government is that the sale of new build apartments has slowed down considerably since Help To Buy came to an end and there are already a number of nice apartments schemes which are currently unbuilt as a result. 

“What would really help the market and boost housing growth, and with it the economy, would be the reintroduction of Help to Buy - I feel that would be a major winner for the Government.”

Jason Willetts, managing director at Connells Land & New Homes, added: “It’s positive to see that the delivery of housing is still a key debate for government. Brownfield sites are part of the equation of course, but it’s not the silver bullet, what is undeniable is that we are not building enough homes - we’re miles away from the 300,000 that was targeted.
“We know brownfield sites are not often in the location that buyers want them to be.

“Understandably there is the reluctance to release greenbelt, but providing it’s done sympathetically and doesn’t look incongruous to the existing development of a village or a town then an element needs to be released into the into the planning system.”

  • Matt Faizey

    Gov needs to equalise any form of stimulus across demand and supply. That is if they were going to effect any demand side stimulus at all.

    I'll always argue that stimulus now should solely be on supply side.

    However if both sides of the fence were equalised then gov could truly get the boost the economy needs

    Any reintroduction of H2B needs NOT to be restricted to new build only. The evidence is there of the damage this did. It should be across the market, capped on value.

    Supply side, crack on with relaxing the planning in favour of brownfield regeneration. Empty shop numbers are increasing, and with no councils willing to roll back on the pedestrianisation of traditional shopping areas they are not coming back.

    So, make these easier to convert. Same with office space, and indeed industrial buildings.

    Cleverer bids than I however need to come up with methods of incentivising more small developers to enter. Low rate government backed loans maybe? Available for all developments up to 50 units. Available to any developer who has completed less than 1000 units in the previous year.

    I'm just spit-balling here

    Also, a public register of option agreements, and a mandatory
    24month time limit on them would also shake the market. While also banning the exclusivity aspect for the entire term. It would force developers to go full throttle to get planning permission in asap. Knowing that the landowner could be approached and easily switch developers if it's not PP'd quickly.

    Tax incentivise all developers in some fashion based on the speed from date of PP granted to the last unit being completed on.

    Gov needs to address:

    Not enough built
    Not enough competition to do so


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