Brokers call for more brownfield development

Brokers call for more brownfield development
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Brokers and money coaches have called for more support from government and local authorities to give the green light to brownfield housing development.

They told FTAdviser the rising demand for affordable housing, coupled with the cost of living crisis, necessitated a more joined-up approach to using brownfield sites to build homes in urban areas.

Financial coach Richard Bishop, founder of Money Trainers, said: "Planning permission is very slow. There are loads of issues.

"Brownfield land is massively under-used for homes, mainly because redeveloping brownfield sites requires additional time, resources, skills and budget and so it might not be the main focus for many housebuilders in the UK."

Also, contaminated soil is a "huge issue", Bishop said, which needed to be addressed when developing Brownfield sites. According to Bishop, this challenge may result in housebuilders not taking advantage of development opportunities.

Surrey Mortgage Broker founder Richard Bousefield, said: "There’s been talk of developing brownfield sites for ages. I'm pretty sure I remember [former Prime Minister] Gordon Brown talking about it.

"I think if they are viable places for people to live, with the right infrastructure, then absolutely I would support that."

Martin Stewart, founder of London Money, criticised the lack of progress since the government announced it would be supporting more brownfield developments in previous Budgets.

Stewart commented: "Those [politicians] say a lot of stuff - it is what manifestos are for: to get elected off the back of, and then shredded.

"They have no understanding of the market; there is too much greed, and too many housing ministers."

He added: "I read something that suggests only 2 per cent of England has been built on; despite what the racists say, we’re hardly running out of room."

However, Bousefield added it is not always that simple to build and get a mortgage on a brownfield site home.

He explained: "I’ve done a few mortgages for offices converted to flats over the years, and very recently I had one declined as the lender deemed it high risk (from a re-sale perspective).

"I did find this a little odd as there is supposed to be a housing shortage."

Urban projects

In June, research from new-build sales optimisation platform Unlatch revealed there was "sufficient brownfield land to create £463bn worth of new homes, with brownfield capacity seeing a significant annual increase". 

Despite the government’s constant promises to use brownfield land to build more homes, analysis by Unlatch showed the amount of brownfield land available was actually increasing. 

In 2020, there was capacity for just over 1mn homes to be built on brownfield sites. But the latest data shows this has increased by 9.6 per cent, to capacity for more than 1.1mn potential homes.