1.1m new homes could be built in England’s brownfield

In total, £463bn of residential value is ‘tied up’ in previously developed land not currently in use, while Britain’s housing crisis deepens.

Research by new-build sales optimisation platform Unlatch has identified a huge capacity for additional homes on brownfield sites in England. Overall, these locations could help add 1.1m properties to a market that has notoriously been underserved by developers, leading to a widespread shortage in available housing. 

grayscale photography of factory

The number of homes that could be built on brownfield has risen by 9.6% year-on-year. In monetary terms, this equates to around £463bn of potential new developments, with London the area that could benefit most. The capital has more suitable sites than anywhere else in the country, with space for 355,644 new houses, adding £200bn to the city’s market. 

Meanwhile, in South East England there could be £78bn added to the market, with the East of England coming in at £51bn and East Midlands potentially looking at up to £22bn in new stock. The numbers point to the huge potential of these sites, while also highlighting a failure at central government level to facilitate ‘unlocking’ this opportunity, despite successive promises to use more brownfield sites by both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove.

‘Brownfield sites are the ideal place to build new homes. Unlike greenbelt land, brown sites do nothing to detract from the nation’s natural beauty or open spaces. It’s little surprise, therefore, to see the government leaning heavily on these sites for their levelling up plans, but it doesn’t seem that they’ve yet put their plans into action,’ said Lee Martin, Head of UK at Unlatch. 

‘We hope that the government follows through on its pledge to utilise this land and deliver the affordable homes that so many people need. Not only will it deliver much-needed homes, but it will also bring a huge boost to the housing market, and therefore the economy, by hundreds of billions of pounds.’ 

In February, three English regions – West Midlands, Greater Manchester, and the Tees Valley Combined Authority – were awarded funding to regenerate brownfield sites as part of the Levelling Up programme. 

Image credit: Jack Stirzaker


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