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Government pledge on brownfield sites could impact on Gloucester

PUBLISHED: 17:26 13 October 2014 | UPDATED: 15:14 27 October 2014

David Cameron’s pledge to build up to 100,000 affordable homes on brownfield sites across the country could have special resonance in Gloucestershire, according to Bruton Knowles.

The regeneration specialist claims significant numbers of new homes being planned on green field sites across the county have been delayed – and in some cases derailed – after running up against determined local opposition.

Harry Breakwell from Bruton Knowles’ Gloucester office said: “We believe priority should be given for new housing schemes on some of Gloucester’s many brownfield sites to help ease the regional and national housing crisis. “This would help to bring derelict or abandoned plots back into the public realm after years and even decades of standing empty, with less likelihood of determined opposition from protestors looking to protect the county’s green belt locations.

This policy could be especially effective changing the landscape of a city like Gloucester for the better given the significant number of derelict sites in and around the city.”

The Prime Minister announced plans to extend the successful Help to Buy scheme, providing for 100,000 homes to be built on brownfield land and reserved for sale to first time buyers at prices 20% less than their market value. By exempting house builders from a raft of taxes the government would exempt house builders from certain taxes and allow the release of cheap brownfield sites to building new homes – obligating the builders to pass their saving onto the buyers.

But Harry Breakwell warned the policy has drawbacks: “Although the government announcement could open up more opportunities for development, house builders are well aware brownfield land is generally more expensive to build on. “The exemption from 106 contributions and future zero-carbon homes standards could encourage developers as this could potentially mean that properties are not sold at a premium, due to the high abnormal costs of contamination.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which advocates positive solutions for the long-term future of the countryside, has launched a national campaign to identify derelict sites and vacant land in towns and villages that could be suitable for new homes.

The #WasteOfSpace campaign, being supported locally by CPRE’s Gloucestershire branch, is actively encouraging local people to record derelict sites and vacant land in Gloucestershire and add it to CPRE’s ‘WasteOfSpace’ map of England. Residents are being asked to send a photograph of the site (as simple as a quick snap on a smartphone) along with an address - either a postcode or rough street address by:

emailing info@cpre.org.uk

tweeting @CPREGlos with the campaign hashtag #WasteOfSpace

posting to the Facebook group #WasteOfSpace

CPRE Gloucestershire branch chair Charlie Watson, said: “A key principle for CPRE nationally, and in Gloucestershire, is that derelict and vacant sites which are known as brownfield sites should be redeveloped ahead of further encroachment on to green fields and Green Belt land. The amount of brownfield land available is greater than official figures suggest and many local authorities are failing to prioritise its use.”

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