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Brownfield sites still vacant

By: Kelly Bellerson
Press Release

Brownfield sites with room for more than 1.2m homes remain unused in England, according to reports.

The Government have pledged over £60m in funding to councils with the hope of transforming some of these sites into high quality new homes.

However, there is still a large number of brownfield sites that remain dormant with untapped potential…

Unused brownfield sites

Around 67,563 acres (27,342 hectares) of brownfield sites remain unused across the UK, according to the countryside charity CPRE.

CPRE analysed 344 brownfield registers for the year 2022 and found that the number of sites available had grown 6% on 2021 figures, with the ability to provide 1.2 million homes.

The research found that 550,000 homes, with planning permission, are still waiting to be developed upon. Additionally, planning permission has only been granted for 45% of the available sites.

The North of England was highlighted as the region with the highest number of unused brownfield sites, including former industrial estates.

In the North West 33% of available sites have been granted planning permission, 36% in the West Midlands, and 40% acquired planning permission in Yorkshire and the Humber – with the capacity for 115,000 homes.

Unsurprisingly, brownfield sites in the South West region gained more planning permission with 56% of sites approved, equating to space for around 71,000 new homes. However, there is still a large majority of brownfield sites that remain dormant.

Government response

A ‘Brownfield Land Release Fund’ was commissioned by MP’s with £77m distributed to councils in order to release 160 brownfield sites with room for 7,750 new homes.

The Government pledged a further £60m to councils for a number of new regeneration projects which allowed local authorities to bid for a share of the £60m, designed to deliver 5,800 new homes by March 2027 and provide more than 18,000 new jobs in the housing and construction industry.

The grant is part of the £180m Brownfield Land Release Fund 2 which saw £35m shared between 41 councils last November, helping 59 regeneration projects. Applications have now closed for this round of funding.

It is anticipated that around 17,600 new homes will be delivered in the next four years by regenerating brownfield sites with the remaining funds from the grant, allocated to a number of councils over the next two years.


Despite Government funding, there are still a large majority of brownfield sites, with and without planning permission, that await regeneration.

Brownfield sites have the potential to provide millions of homes for families across the UK, from affordable housing to private rentals.

The Government have called for a potential amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that would see companies fined for failing to build on land despite receiving permission for regeneration.

Furthermore, the charity that evaluated Britain’s brownfield sites are openly pushing for the national planning policy to be tweaked to prioritise the redevelopment of brownfield sites over building upon greenfield sites.

What is a brownfield site?

A brownfield site is a property that has already been built and used for purpose and now stands abandoned and disused. The property should still be in a structurally sound condition with the potential for other use.

They are a smart investment for developers looking to repurpose existing buildings to make room for the likes of offices or apartment blocks. Elements to consider before regenerating a brownfield site include; condition, age, materials, location, and cost.

Popular examples of brownfield site regeneration include abandoned Victorian era factories that have been transformed into modern flats or Georgian townhouses converted into commercial office spaces.

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