Policy recommendations designed to bring thousands of hectares of blighted land back into beneficial use on behalf of communities – helping to tackle the link between dereliction, deprivation and ill-health as a result – are published today by English Partnerships, the National Regeneration Agency.
It is expected that the recommendations submitted to Government will form the first-ever national strategy to tackle the problem of ‘brownfield blight’ in England. A ‘how to’ toolkit, to be used alongside the Strategy, will help local authorities and other private and public sector landowners to assess brownfield land in their communities, which could then be used for much-needed new homes, business parks, wildlife reserves, or just green open public space.
Currently over 70% of new homes are built on brownfield land; while research conducted in 2002 and again in 2005 shows that the amount of medium and long-term derelict land had fallen by 29% over the three year period.
The strategy aims to support further improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of recycling land. There are around 63,000 hectares of brownfield land on sites in England, many of which can be difficult to bring back into use.
Speaking at a series of briefings to key Government departments Professor Paul Syms, English Partnerships’ National Brownfield Advisor, said: “Our National Brownfield Strategy, based on the recommendations submitted to Government, will be the first model of its kind to build upon the legacy of England’s industrial past.
“Literally thousands of ugly and derelict sites which disproportionately blight entire communities could be completely turned around – as we have already seen in many areas, proving there is a real opportunity for landowners to bring forward more sites for regeneration.”
The National Brownfield Strategy recognises that many brownfield sites are difficult to deal with, and that not all are suitable for housing or commercial development, using a ‘develop or re-use first’ principle to ensure that land nevertheless has a designated use beneficial to the community. A total of nine policy recommendations would be implemented across four parallel strands between now and 2013:
- Strand One – Policies to identify, assess and prepare brownfield land for re-use to ensure an adequate supply of land when it is needed;
- Strand Two – Policies to safeguard the environment by ensuring the effective and efficient re-use of land;
- Strand Three – Policies to enhance communities and contribute to sustainability by removing blight and ensuring the long-term management of of restored land; and
- Strand Four – Policies to address a shortage of skills in dealing with brownfield land by meeting the need for appropriately qualified and experienced practitioners.
The recommendations published today were submitted to Government in May and a decision regarding their adoption as formal policy is expected in the Autumn.