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The brownfield/greenfield debate at The National Planning Summit 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

At the third annual National Planning Summit last week, renowned architect Lord Rogers encouraged the building of new cites, but within existing ones.

High density does not need to mean high buildings, he suggested, and during the Q&A he added, ‘We are nowhere near needing new towns. We are at least 20 years away before we’ve used all the brownfield.’

The theme of brownfield over greenfield continued into multiple presentations throughout the day. Brandon Lewis MP, and Minister of State for Housing and Planning, continued the emphasis by stating, ‘We need to ensure new homes are built in the right places, and building on brownfield land is what most people want to see.’ He also confirmed that the updated National Planning Policy Framework would be published this summer.

A breakout session in the afternoon concentrated further on the greenfield debate. The first speaker put a case for a ‘re-evaluation’ of the greenbelt around cities where housing was the least affordable but employment opportunities were high. The second speaker counter-argued that there was still strong support from the public for the greenbelt and its protection. The third and final speaker took us through a case study of how they as a council partnership had taken through a local plan which allocated nearly 3,500 homes in the green belt. Interesting and thought-provoking stuff.

From a planning point of view, it is possible to see how the use of brownfield sites makes sense, but we must not forget the importance these sites can have for biodiversity, particularly for many rare and endangered species. As long as biodiversity is considered at an early stage and suitable mitigation is devised, implemented and managed effectively for the long term, maybe our future generations can live close to the cities they work in, and in houses they can afford, whilst still having access to a biodiverse environment.

You can find more about this on the Planning Resource blog site, here.

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