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Greenfield land at risk, report claims

PUBLISHED: 04:46 22 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:12 24 February 2010

TOO much "greenfield" land in East Anglia is at risk of disappearing under concrete for new homes, according to a report published today .

A total of more than 6,000 acres of countryside is at risk from new housing development in the official planning blueprints of Suffolk and Essex, according to the report from the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE).

TOO much “greenfield” land in East Anglia is at risk of disappearing under concrete for new homes, according to a report published today .

A total of more than 6,000 acres of countryside is at risk from new housing development in the official planning blueprints of Suffolk and Essex, according to the report from the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE).

The group is urging planners to make better use of previously developed but now derelict urban “brownfield” sites and to bring more empty property back into occupation.

However, its figures were challenged yesterday by a senior county council official.

CPRE has examined all of the county structure plans in England and Wales.

Nationally, it has calculated that space has been allocated for 1.9 million homes and that 109,000 acres of the land earmarked is in the “greenfield” category.

It claims there are more than 165,000 acres of brownfield land available for development.

In Suffolk there is provision for 53,000 new homes and, based on the county council's past “land use” record, CPRE claims that more than 3,300 acres of greenfield land is at risk.

In Essex provision has been made for 72,250 new homes and, taking into account the county council's record, CPRE suggests that 2,955 acres of countryside is at risk.

In both counties the average number of dwellings built per acre during recent years has been nine - well below the Government's new target of at least 12 per acre.

CPRE is calling for an increase in the national target for new housing using brownfield sites from the current 60% to at least 75%.

It also wants more resources allocated to the Government's regional offices to enforce national planning policies.

“Developers' preference for building on greenfield sites, assisted by local authorities' continued willingness to allocate such sites, is squandering scarce land.

“The result will be continuing unnecessary loss of countryside to urban sprawl and less investment in urban renewal,” said Kate Gordon, CPRE's national planning officer.

She added: “If the Government is serious about protecting the countryside it needs to do more to reduce development of greenfield sites.”

John Pitchford, Suffolk County Council's strategic policy manager, said CPRE was right to keep up its pressure on the Government to make the best use of brownfield sites.

However, the amount of greenfield land in Suffolk that is likely to be developed was considerably lower than the figures quoted - because they appeared to be based on old planning permissions and policies.

“The amount of greenfield land loss in Suffolk is likely to be less than half that forecast by CPRE,” Mr Pitchford said.

An Essex County Council spokeswoman said 50% of new housing development was already on brownfield sites and the aim was to achieve 60% and increase the density of developments.

“Essex is doing quite well but we hope to do better,” she added.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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