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17 March 2007

Brownfield Land

The recent experiences with Tyson Road raised a number of questions, including the definition of 'brownfield land'.

The term is a broadbrush statement and, as always, government policy, as set out in Planning Policy Statement 3 (Housing), is not necessarily definitive.

Recent guidance, however, has moved away from using the term brownfield land to an even more broadbrush term of “previously developed land.” The latest government planning documents define “previously developed land” as “that which is or was occupied by a permanent structure.” In the case of the Tyson Road development, part of the site was occupied by garages and hardstanding and for this reason this part of the site could be described as previously developed.

There is a commitment from the Government to build 60% of new homes on land that has been previously developed. This is a controversial subject and the drive to build new homes on brownfield is open to some abuse.

Gardens are classified as brownfield allowing developers to build dense housing in the midst of residential areas potentially increasing pressure on local drainage, for example.

Most people recognise that there's an obvious difference between brownfield land such as that behind Tyson Road and industrial brownfield sites. But developers are more likely to look out for the Tyson Road type of "previously developed" land because it offers greater profit.

Converting derelict, industrial buildings into new homes can involve considerable costs in decontamination and other remedial work.

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