David Cameron’s pledge to build up to 100,000 affordable homes on brownfield sites across the country could have special resonance here in Gloucestershire.
That’s according to regeneration specialists Bruton Knowles, who claim 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 Development Surveyor at Bruton Knowles said: “We believe priority should be given for new housing schemes on some of Gloucester’s many Brownfield sites in order 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.”
Harry Breakwell was commenting on David Cameron’s Conservative party conference pledge to turn former industrial or commercial sites into affordable housing.
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 per cent less than their market value.
By exempting house builders from a raft of taxes the government is aiming to 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 did have a number of 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.
“This could be caused by a number of issues relating to the site’s previous use. It could be that the land needs to be cleared first - particularly if the land is contaminated from industrial use.
“However, 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.
Harry Breakwell concluded: “Having an abandoned site in your neighbourhood brings a multitude of problems for people and residents are usually relieved when the uncertainty of having derelict buildings on their doorstep is lifted with the arrival of smart and very much needed new homes.
“We have found smaller, brownfield sites with up to ten or so new homes often providing a percentage of affordable homes - are far more popular with the neighbours and frequently attract their support rather than determined opposition.