Published: 12:00, 26 November 2014
Kent has enough brownfield land for at least 70,000 new homes, according to a report commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and carried out by the University of the West of England.
Most local authorities are preparing to release swathes of greenfield land to meet housing targets, but using up the countryside would appear to be unnecessary in many areas if better use were made of previously developed sites.
The report, entitled From Wasted Space to Living Spaces, has identified a capacity for at least one million new homes on suitable brownfield land across the country and estimates that there are 1,600 hectares of brownfield sites in Kent, which could accommodate at least 70,000 homes.
The majority is in North Kent – in particular Dartford, with 846 hectares, but the research has also identified 336 hectares in Tonbridge and Malling.
Maidstone has 89 hectares of unused brownfield land; Tunbridge Wells has 48 hectares.
CPRE Kent’s senior planner Brian Lloyd said: “We have long been arguing for development to be focused on brownfield sites.
“At a time when there is great pressure for growth, by building on brownfield we would protect our countryside, help avoid the loss of productive
farmland and regenerate our towns and cities.”
The university used data collected from a survey of planning authorities, but the researchers say the one million homes figure could even be an underestimate because it only identifies land already derelict or with planning permission and does not include under-used land, such as car parks.
Nearly half the country’s vacant space is located in the south east, the east of England and London - the areas under the greatest stress.
Mr Lloyd said: “We want the Government to change its planning policy to prioritise brownfield sites over greenfield.
“There needs to be a proactive approach to identifying brownfield sites and more funding and incentives to develop large and difficult sites.”
To see the report, visit www.cpre.org.uk and select “latest news”.
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More by this authorAlan Smith