Green Balance contributes to campaigns run by non-government organisations, Government agencies and others at the national level to improve the planning system and the environment. We frequently provide the evidence base for these campaigns through research, but with our considerable experience in this sector we can also help clients to devise and execute their campaign strategies.
Building on previously developed land before green fields
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) runs a national campaign to encourage development on ‘brownfield’ (previously used) sites within urban areas in preference to taking green field sites unnecessarily. When the Government issued its draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for consultation in July 2011 without reference to the principle of building on brownfield land first, CPRE asked Green Balance to help. We examined the evidence on the efficient use of land through a ‘brownfields first’ approach, with a view to restoring a positive approach to urban land recycling in the final NPPF.
Previously developed land (PDL) suitable and used for housing (Annual average hectares 2001-09, by region)
The Green Balance research combined for the first time the Government’s own data over the years from its Land Use Change Statistics and National Land Use Database to show that:
- across the regions there was available on average nearly nine years’ supply of previously developed land suitable for housing (see figure);
- fresh supplies of previously developed land continue to become available, at approximately the rate they are built on; and
- urban land recycling enables a continuous supply of housing to be built, often on sites that could not be predicted in advance, even when there are virtually no green field sites available (e.g. inner London authorities) or outward expansion of settlements is constrained (e.g. by Green Belt designation).
Our report Building In A Small Island? Why we still need the brownfields first approach contributed to the final NPPF re-establishing as one the Government’s twelve core planning principles: “encourage the effective use of land by reusing land that has been previously developed (brownfield land), provided that it is not of high environmental value”.
Other examples of national campaigns we have assisted
- Legislation to secure more effective control over long-standing quarries through ‘Reviews of Old Mineral Permissions’, for the Council for National Parks with Friends of the Peak District.
Our co-authored report Old Mineral Permissions and National Parks and our summary report Ticking Timebombs? The threat of old mineral permissions in National Parks (2004) provided evidence of the problems which later led to the law being changed. The research was summarised in an article in Mineral Planning in 2004 and a further article published in Mineral Planning in 2005 on Prohibition Orders, prohibiting the resumption of working at old mineral sites.
- Promoting the building of affordable housing, for the National Housing Federation.
Our work is highlighted in the Housing Case Study.
- The case for limited Third Party Rights of Appeal in Planning, for a consortium of national non-government organisations.
This is highlighted in Planning Procedures.
- Protecting high grade farmland from built development, for the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
See Natural World for a description of our report Valuing the Land: planning for the best and most versatile agricultural land (2000).